Danny White’s latest CD is titled A Beautiful Crazy and was co-produced and mixed by C.J. Eiriksson (U2, Incubus, Phish, Live, Matchbox 20) as well as Mike Wanchic, John Mellencamp’s longtime guitarist and co-producer (also produced Dylan, Black Crowes, Dave Matthews) Wanchic also backed White on the disc’s whopping 16 tracks. Mastered by Richard Dodd (George Harrison, Tom Petty, Robert Plant, Keith Urban, Wilburys and Dixie Chicks) it does not get higher on the ladder of rock and roll royalty than it does here on A Beautiful Crazy.
Danny White is an artist that has remained beneath the surface of the Jersey rock royalty scene for years, concentrating on recording projects and giving way to the flamboyant and fashionable attention whores that populate our great state. Nonetheless, White has managed to survive this sideshow mentality by utilizing an intense honesty and likeability that gets rarer by the week around here.
White’s ongoing success is also reliant upon his ability to give back as much as possible when it comes to those in need. An active alumnus of The Light Of Day Foundation to fight Parkinson’s disease, White is also active with Musicians On Call, a music therapy program where artists play for children at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital in NYC. He was first musician to begin the program and to play for children at the hospital. He has also donated stage time for The Food Banks of Monmouth and Ocean Counties and Manna House, a home for abused young mothers.
White’s compositions, “You Got A Good Thing Going” and “Ooh Yeah” are featured on at least two different MTV shows including The Road Home and Making The Tour. Danny White’s song “Prisoners Of Hope” is featured in the film Just Around The Corner. He also has an original song “Holiday Home” featured in Hwy 50 Films’ Nothing For Christmas.
At first listen, A Beautiful Crazy seems to be a massive, multi-styled undertaking as White mixes über-commercial ballads with techno and synthesizers, only to tumble down and into a switch-hit bundle of organic rock and roll compositions. His vocal is reminiscent of several easily identifiable singers such as Bono, Jon Bon Jovi and Richard Marx. However, other complex influences arise here as well. Brad Paisley, Josh Todd (Buckcherry) and new school country rebel Eric Church.
Some standout tracks on A Beautiful Crazy are the echo-laden, melodic glimmer of “Some Say,” a deep look into the dark, psychically twisted world of people and their overbearing opinions. Guest guitarist Michael Askin is immediately recognizable with his simple and wisely chosen guitar line that truly makes the song memorable. White lays back on this and does his thing well, mixing color and melody that brings forth everything from the Grateful Dead to that Eiriksson-generated U2 sound.
“Prisoners Of Hope” has already garnered positive feedback in the film Just Around The Corner. This looks to be the tune with true hit potential on the CD. Ethereal and soulful backing vocals come courtesy of Layonne Holmes and Deb Vaughn. Utilizing tons of effects, patches and synthesizers can always go wrong for an artist but Eiriksson holds this production in check like a dog on a choke collar, releasing sharp compositional bites only when he deems it necessary to unleash the beast. Sarah Tomek wakes this song up with a hot shot of rhythmic thunder that contrasts deliciously with strings arrangements reminiscent of Billy Paul and that golden “Me And Mrs. Jones” ‘70s era. Choruses are a bit repetitive but as the saying goes, “When you have a good thing, let everyone know about it.” The gospel pop sound (think Angel Of Harlem) gives the song a multi-directional feel that tells me that White just might have radio gold on his hands.
“Hope” is a desolate and beautiful sojourn into the visual imagery of bands like the Eagles and Coldplay. While Danny might have nothing purposely in common with bands such as these, the choice of construction and dynamics are relatively parallel here. White rises to the rank of composer on “Hope.” The analog warm piano of Jim Long helps steer this song along its dream-laden course, the sweet-toned backing vocals of Kerry McNulty lend a Tanya Tucker/Stevie Nicks feel that is smooth, and seamless, intertwining with White’s empathetic plea quite well.
One of the coolest cuts on the disc is this gritty little live recording titled “Clarksdale In The Spring.” Ornery and dirty as hell, White recorded this on his iPhone out on the corner of some dusty Mississippi two-horse junction. Rusty Dobro action creaks, shrieks and drones, calling the devil to the crossroads on which Danny White awaits him.
“Ya Think Your Gonna” unloads with grunge-fueled guitar riffs that recall the most sinister of spy chase scenes. White and Askin battle to the six-string death as vocalists Layonne Holmes and Jo Wymer spin interesting background melodies in and around White’s Robert Palmer-styled vocal. Special guest Richard Blackwell puts rhythmic panache into the music with his congas and bongos. “Ya Think Your Gonna” might not seem like a hit at first listen, but it is an interesting gem that glows with texture and imaginative ideas that grow on you with each playing.
“Before We Touch The Moon” opens with slide work reminiscent of George Harrison on All Things Must Pass. Bouncy rhythms, lively acoustic strumming and colorful electric guitar work courtesy of Andy York all enhance the melodic hook that White pushes here. This is a great pop song with much radio land appeal.
The 1980s feel of “I’ll Be There” brings back visions of The Police, Corey Hart and Don Henley as White and crew kick into the four on the floor verse. The chorus opens up wide here and highlights White’s full range. Danny handles the guitar work here as well, chugging along in the verses like Elliot Easton of the Cars and impressing me with his melodic six-string choices.
“Life” brings White back to the ballad form. Acoustic guitars sprinkle down lightly over the pristine piano work of Jack Pyrath as Mike Askin shimmers up the whole song with tremolo-laden electric guitar. Danny White is a vocal chameleon and while he never copies any one artist, you can feel the influences as he sings. “Life” reminds me of Alice Cooper’s mellow pop hits from the ‘70s. Innocent intentions on the journey of life and love sum up well with the horn arrangements of Steve Jankowski and Kerry Divine, who bring out the breezy summer day feel of this song.
A Beautiful Crazy has a lot of material to ponder and digest. From ballads to flat our rockers, Danny White scores well as he brings something to the table for everyone on this latest and immediately likeable disc. For further information on New Jersey songwriter Danny White and his latest CD, A Beautiful Crazy, please go to beachmusicstudios.com.