Ballroom Music via Kobalt Label (label)
14 April 2014 (released)
03 May 2014
Thirteen years ago Semisonic were awarded a 5 star review for what turned out to be their final album by Q Magazine. It was a hugely over generous review for All About Chemistry, that contained some thoughtful pop-rock but was way short of that accolade. It also featured a track about masturbation (Get A Grip), a disappointing childish moment from a band loved for their more intelligent songwriting.
Despite the band's demise, singer and chief writer Dan Wilson has done very well for himself as a sought after writer. And thankfully he has matured as a songsmith from those earlier teenage references and produced excellent songs with the likes of Dixie Chicks, Paloma Faith and even Nas. Of course the big payday came with Adele's Someone Like You.
So it is with some anticipation that Wilson has finally arrived with a follow up to his 2007 release Free Life. But like many singers turned writers, there is quite a lot of evidence as to why he needs the 'day job'. Love Without Fear has its high points, with the likes of the opening title track (which pitches Wilson's American twang alongside a female vocal to terrific effect to sound like The Jayhawks), the cheery brass of When It Pleases You and the delightful Two.
Tales of lost and found love are all well and good but there is little change of pace here. Like on his debut, perhaps some of the songs would sound better in more adventurous hands. Wilson says he wanted an album with a singer-songwriter in its DNA, and capture influences of Broadway and The Beatles. In the end he doesn't quite achieve either, but it is great to hear his voice again.