Danny McDonald

Summer City

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    8
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Danny McDonald's "solo" debut (he used to record one-man-band power pop under the band name P76) is a richly enjoyable pure pop album of both lyrical and melodic heft, sounding at times like a cross between Paul Kelly & the Messengers' late-'80s albums and the straightforward hooks and harmony of Brendan Benson or Jason Falkner. The Kelly influence -- McDonald has proclaimed Kelly's Under the Sun his all-time favorite album, and it shows -- is most evident on the folkish, acoustic "Let's Get Drunk to You and Me," but McDonald has a similar Australia ├╝ber Alles feel to his lyrics, filling songs like "Too Much Fun," "Living in Traralgon," and "An Hour's Drive in a Sandman Panel Van" (a brief and minimal but utterly charming homage to Australian surf culture) with novelistic detail and offhand local references that help set his songs in a very specific time and place. More importantly, McDonald has an uncanny knack for varied and appealing melodies, and his self-production is clean and richly detailed, giving Summer City enough variety that its unfortunately brief playing time (11 songs in 25 minutes!) doesn't seem like too little to properly appreciate.

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