Album Review Daan Junior:: The minute I heard the Rock n’ Roll drumming in the fifteen second intro, my expectations shot right up. The transition to Kompa is pretty smooth. Now, I normally do not care for keyboard solos in our genre, but the forty-five second one here feels like that first sip of that Starbucks coffee in the morning. It just hits the spot! I love the fact that, other than an occasional “yeah-yeah-yeah” from the backup singers, Daan just shuts the hell up and let his fingers do the talking.
1. Cherie’m kolé [5m25s]
Highs: The minute I heard the Rock n’ Roll drumming in the fifteen second intro, my expectations shot right up. The transition to Kompa is pretty smooth. Now, I normally do not care for keyboard solos in our genre, but the forty-five second one here feels like that first sip of that Starbucks coffee in the morning. It just hits the spot! I love the fact that, other than an occasional “yeah-yeah-yeah” from the backup singers, Daan just shuts the hell up and let his fingers do the talking.
Lows: There’s a synth line introduced at the 0m36s that goes on for the remainder of this 5m25s track. Mind you, it’s a sweet little sound which I don’t mind, but I think the listener could have used a break from it, especially during the keyboard solo. Also Daan seems to be struggling to hit a couple of high notes.
The Score: With Thierry Delannay’s stellar guitar work and Richard Richie’s marvellous drumming, this song definitely earned the right to occupy the opening spot on this CD. It’s a pleasant Kopma track without the typical clichés. You won’t find any siwel, fake brass, rap, or any shout-outs.
2. Moin santi’m béni [4m59s]
Highs: The guitar strumming and piano on which this tune is built are about the only things worth paying special attention to. The background vocals are nicely put together as well. Not even Georgie Métélus’ [sic] presence could ruin them.
Lows: The synth bells used throughout are too 1980s for my taste. This type of sound is already Arly Lariviere’s favourite. If that isn’t reason enough to make Daan stay away from it, I don’t know what is. There’s a decent solo around 3m35s, but unfortunately, the guitar sounds more like it’s coming from a rompler than the real instrument.
The Score: If you like Daan’s voice, you’ll have no problems keeping your iPod earbuds on since he seems to have quite a bit to say here. Otherwise, this is just another average Kompa Love track.
3. J’ai soif de toi [5m59s]
Highs: “De montay pa janm kontré; men nou de n’ka kwazé; si’w tandé vwa’m kap chanté, pansé ankor m’ekzisté.” That’s the one passage that seems to stick in my head. The rest is way too sappy for me to repeat in public. Hm, I’m sure they’ll make the young girls out there feel a little “funny” in some places. Musically, the synth swirls, acoustic guitar, ethereal voices, fat analogue synth bass, Daan’s smooth vocals and melody all make for a wonderful aural experience.
Lows: I’m not crazy about the use of three languages to get the message across. How many languages does a man need to tell a woman he wants to get in her undies? Gee whiz! Having the guitar solo so rudely cut off by the piano leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Those strings during the second verse and chorus just don’t do it for me. Perhaps they sound a bit too authentic for this very electronic track. Lastly, for a six minute song, the drum programming could have used a little more life; it’s too mechanical as is.
The Score: This is probably one of the better Zouk Love songs to come from a Haitian artist. Some of the ladies are describing it as “baby making music.” All I can tell them is to give me a call when they’re ready and I’ll hop on right over so we can “listen” together.
4. Ti bouton malè [5m25s]
Highs: We’re graced with yet another splendid performance by Richard Richie on drums. I just love his kick breaks and fills. Claudine Pennont and Carolyn’ are the two ladies credited with backup singing on this track. Their “woyo, woyowoyo,” “Ah, ah, ah, ah” and “oh na-na-na-na-na” [during the keyboard solo] give the track a very sexy appeal. I especially like when one of them seductively says, “Relax bébé, nou pa presse…” Although Jean Eude has no solos, he drops some brutal guitar licks.
Lows: Had a different sound been used for the keyboard solo, I would have put the performance under “highs.” I really don’t understand why our musicians like using the same silly sounds already heard on every other Kompa song. Have you guys ever thought of layering different synth patches to get your own unique sounds? The fake brass makes an appearance for the first time. And that electric piano solo at 3m24s can only be described as what we call in Creole “téké not.”
The Score: A decent Kompa track made much more fun by the female backup singers.
5. Mété’m alèze [5m02s]
Highs: When the supporting piano isn’t buried under all the other instruments, things sound somewhat less dull. With the exception of a short organ passage after the bridge, I’d be lying if I told you there was anything else here that I consider memorable.
Lows: What’s the story with the tape hiss during this intro. I also noticed this same hiss on the previous three tracks. In this day and age when you can download freeware from the Net to clean up sound files, it’s unacceptable for anyone to release a song or disc with such flaw. Stuff like that really gets under my skin, as thick as it may be. In any case, a little voice is telling me to “let it go.”The Score: Daan uses his staple acoustic guitar and piano with the help of some lush strings and other synth noises to put this Zouk Love piece together. Since it’s slow tempo with heart wrenching lyrics, I can see a lot of babies being conceived with this track playing in the background.
6. Kité’m allé [4m57s]
Highs: “Jou pa mwen gen pou’l vini; sé chans pa’m ki poko rivé; tro ta bare’w; men jounen yan fini; nuit la fèk komancé.” For the synth junkies out there, that growling bass line is definitely a keeper.
Lows: I wish the electronic kick were pitched down a cent or two so it could sit better with the bass. Re-re-re-repetitive! Repetitive! Repetitive! Oh and, one more thing: REPETITIVE! They could have shaven off half the song and we wouldn’t miss anything.
The Score: You know how you start losing touch with your surroundings when you’re about to fall asleep? That’s how it feels like while listening to this tune. No matter how hard I try to hang in there until the end, I find my consciousness [yawn] simply drift……..ing…
7. Ne pouvant dormir [4m59s]
Highs: Those of you who shamelessly cry at the movies will like the melody as well as Daan’s vocals, and the Francophones will dig the French lyrics. I personally like the line, “Les désirs sont parfois trop grands pour être exaucés.” Okay, tékitizi fréro! If my life were on the line, I’d try really hard to dig for something musically interesting on this track. Since that is not the case, let’s move on; shall we?
Lows: Quite often, you hear something on a piece of music and can’t help but ask why. Such is the case here with the string solo at 2m55s. It fails on two fronts – choice of sound and lack of substance.
The Score: As a whole, listening to this track is like French kissing a pretty girl with halitosis. When you find yourself in the situation, you go through with it, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be looking forward to the next occasion.
8. Yon ti moment [5m10s]
Highs: It’s good to see Daan finally finding a string sound that sits well in an arrangement. With the support of backup vocalist Marie Céline Chroné, he continues to do a spiffy job with his harmonies. Lows: It is said that no matter what fancy restaurant you take some Haitian men to, they always expect their meal to end with a big plate of “diri kolé ak pwa.” I think I may have found another disturbing truth about those same guys. It seems that no matter the Kompa song, some Haitian men won’t be happy unless it has the obligatory siwel. For those types of men, you can get your siwel right here at 3m12s.
The Score: Again, if you’re the type that likes walking around humming sweet little melodies, then ou lan bol pwa’w with this song.
9. Lévé campé [5m33s]
Highs: Have you ever heard the Creole expression “bat dlo fè bè?” I probably would be more successful at that than at finding any high points in this song. Really! Okay, I found something. I’m giving Daan credit for stepping away from his bread and butter topic, love, to pen this one. But then again, one could also argue that patriotism is love for one’s country. Never mind then! The synth horns don’t sound too bad, but they still leave me yearning for the real thing.
Lows: We need another Kompa song about Haiti like that country needs another presidential candidate. But hey, if you want to be the one-millionth Haitian musician to write one, knock yourself out. But, how about trying to be a little creative in the process, eh? “Sonjé koté n’sorti; pa blié ké n’gen yon passé; konnen ké n’gen yon histwa; zanset nou yo soti lafrik…” Gee Daan, how long did it take you to come up with that? My fifteen year old niece could write better material. Mind you, she can hardly speak Creole and is definitely not a musician. The musical arrangement itself just leaves me rolling my eyes.
The Score: Is this an attempt to reach hardcore Kompa fans? The piece is a full two minutes too long. I’m not impressed! What else do you want me to tell you?
10. Style D’5 [7m02]
Highs: Daan isn’t making this part of my job any easier. Trust me when I tell you, there’s nothing of substance here. Basically, it all boils down to the last fifty-four seconds of the song where he does some sweet “ivory tickling” while the backup guys are singing “bye bye bébé, bye bye manman.” If you find anything else, drop me e-mail.
Lows: There’s no redeeming value in either these lyrics or music. This happens to be Daan’s worst vocal performance as welll. He should stick to singing love ditties; he’s not an “animateur.”
The Score: This is a crappy Kompa tune where Daan Junior is trying to simulate a bal by yapping on and on about Kompa, his band D’5 and supposedly introducing the instruments in the process. Terrible stuff, I tell ya! I’d like to describe this track in one word: [totally] pointless.
Versions Accoustiques: [I have no idea why that word is spelled with two “c.” In any event, he’s the one who lives in France, not me.]
1. Moin santi’m béni [5m02s]
2. J’ai soif de toi [5m32s]
3. Mété’ m alèze [4m43s]
4. Ne pouvant dormir [5m00s]
When I saw those four extra tracks listed, I thought, “Ooh, nice touch, Daan!” I was looking forward to hearing them; I was under the impression that he’d take the opportunity to give us different versions and showcase some versatility, improvisation and other interesting stuff. Too bad, that wasn’t to be! As it turns out, his production crew simply hit the mute button on the drum, bass, synth tracks and kept the ones for vocals, piano, and guitar. Call them “acoustic” if you must, but I’d rather use the term “stripped down.” Between you and me, the only time I like hearing the word “stripped” is when a wom… Never miiiind! Nevertheless, they’re still very much listenable and enjoyable; it’s just that I was expecting a wee bit more in terms of creativity and “musical freedom.” In fact, I dig the stripped down version of “Ne pouvant dormir” a lot more than the “fully clothed” one. Even the string solo that I complained about earlier fits much better.
There’s no doubt that Daan Junior spent a lot of time writing his romantic words and melodies, but I’m left wondering if that isn’t more of a weakness than strength. I find that, once you’re past those two elements, the tunes take a quick downward spiral. They lack depth, become repetitive/monotonous and force Daan to oversing at times in order to cover it up. Once he lays down the main theme of a tune, he rarely strays from it. He’ll hold on to it tighter than a frightened little boy holding on to his mom’s skirt in a crowded shopping mall. This inflexibility in his arrangements doesn’t even allow Daan to write a decent coda for any of the ten songs. As a result, they all end the same way, the good old “fade out.” His writing formula may work for the twenty-something year old girls who faint at his shows or for the guys who are in touch with their feminine side, but won’t appeal much to the more cerebral listeners amongst us. Take some chances, young man!
Alan Cave comparisons notwithstanding, Daan Junior has a decent and pleasant singing voice when he stays within his range. [The few falsettos he tried didn’t sit too well.] In addition, he does seem to have a knack for writing nice love songs, which make up the bulk of “J’ai soif de toi.” All niggles aside, this package is a very good value. In this Kompa age, it’s really tough to sit and listen to an hour and fifteen minutes worth of music and not be tempted to hit the skip button at least a couple of times. Although this isn’t the sort of CD that I’d call all my music friends and brag about, I’ll have no problems recommending it to some people. Now, the question is to whom. Based on what I heard, most women will enjoy this disc. [Yeah, yeah, InKonu is being sexist! If you know a good lawyer, feel free to sue me.] On the male front, well, I do believe there are some guys out there who are even sappier than most women. Yeah, those types will definitely dig this compact disc too.
[If you found any typos, blame Ti-Fy for not catching them all. I heard something about being busy watching that phone swinging genius Russell Crowe in Gladiator.]