This is the last of four Christmas CDs that I received at our P.O. Box by someone in the music industry.
When this arrived in early December, my first thought was "Wow! That's some impressive homemade compilation!" It came attached with a handwritten note that read:
"Hey Capt - Thanks for giving "Snowflake" props! I love that record! DBryk"
During the mad rush of the 2006 downloading season, this CD regrettably got lost in the shuffle and I didn't give it the full attention it deserves until now.
Dan Bryk is an "indie-rock" singer slash songwriter originally from Toronto, Canada, and currently based in the sprawling Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill (“Triangle”) North Carolina music scene.
Growing up, Dan's musical influences were Elvis Costello, Burt Bacharach, and Randy Newman (I thought I sensed a Newman connection). He's been recording for nearly 12 years since his first album "Dan Bryk - Asshole" was released in 1995. He's released two other full-length albums, two EPs, and a handful of singles on various compilations. For the past five years, he's been recording out of his home studio cleverly called Flabby Road.
The inspiration for his album came last year when he recorded an original Christmas tune entitled "Love Me For Christmas" for his MySpace site (included on the album). The song has several Raleigh, NC references and the recording engineer who mastered the song noticed and the idea for a Raleigh artist-based Christmas CD to benefit local Raleigh schools was born.
Bryk went back into the studio to rerecord the song (can't have them swear words in there so the high school kids could hear, now can we?) and planned on releasing the new song on iTunes for the out of towners. However, Bryk thought one song wasn't enough and soon he had enough material for a Christmas EP.
"And as I started recording," Bryk told to me in an e-mail, "I realized I had some more original Christmas songs to record, and things just kind of snowballed into this weird little Christmas record."
To paraphrase Linus in 'A Charlie Brown Christmas', "it's not such a bad little [record]".
1.) Love Came Down For Christmas
A new take on the old theme of being lonely at Christmas - never can have too many of those.
2.) Cozy Evenings
"I'm six weeks overdue... and I'm already over you, dear" - Now that's a lyric you'll never hear in a Christmas song - until now! With some help from Erin McGinn on vocals, this is perhaps the best track on the album (also Dan's fave).
3.) Great Adventure
A catchy tune about a road trip that's extremely long... Not sure what it has to do with Christmas.
4.) Hard Candy Christmas
I'd normally associate this song with Dolly Parton... Dan picked a good song and made it better!
5.) Winter Sad
A song about the melancholy that winter inevitably brings after Christmas ends - an excellent song!
6.) Simple Stupid Song
Very Newmanesque song about reaching the plateau of age 30. Not Christmas but still good!
7.) Christmas Ballad
A talk between Dan and Jesus in a 6:04 song... Quite revealing.
8.) Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow
A great arrangement on an old standard. Great help from Erin again.
9.) Cozy Evenings (alternate take/dance mix?) / Love Came Down For Christmas (alternate take?)
Two different versions on this 10 minute track. The "Cozy Evenings" track takes on a whole new life with the uptempo back beat! "Love Came Down" sounds more concise in this version - edited maybe?
Nine seconds of silence... unless Dan took a hint from Paul McCartney and recorded something for dogs on this track!
Be sure to check out the official Dan Bryk web site, the old "lazy-ass" (his words) Dan Bryk web site, and the official Dan Bryk MySpace page (see link above to hear "Cozy Evenings").
Something else you should know about Dan that he confided in me - he has an expensive Japanese iced coffee fetish, plays a mean game of Scattergories, and is 5'9" after a good night of sleep.
A pretty solid album with some good Christmas tunes to boot! Thanks for sending us the CD Dan!
UP NEXT: 22 new Christmas CDs I either bought or received as a gift! We look at gift number one!