One week after the final performance by Lowen & Navarro on June 6, 2009, in Alexandria, VA, Dan Navarro formally launched his solo career with an informal appearance at McCabe's Guitar Shop in Los Angeles, performing before family and friends, accompanied by the band Stonehoney; the show now also serves as his recording debut. There is a bittersweet quality to the proceedings, of course, since Lowen & Navarro did not split up after 22 years due to the proverbial "musical differences." It was simply that Lowen, more than five years into his struggle against the paralyzing effects of Lou Gehrig's Disease, could not perform anymore. That leaves Navarro, in his mid-fifties, to start anew, at least in this format. (He has long maintained a moonlighting career doing background vocals, especially on Spanish-language material, for movies and TV.) Not surprisingly, he devotes much of his set to songs from the Lowen & Navarro repertoire, even if he leans more toward songs he wrote. Stonehoney's vocalists give him some of the harmony sound he formerly got from Lowen's tenor, but he proves to be a distinct entity as a solo performer, clearly evincing the L.A. influences of the Eagles and Los Lobos in songs in which he contemplates love, longs to be a "Better Man," and worries about his "Legacy" to his son (who is in the audience). He looks beyond the duo on the new songs "I Think It's Time" and "Straight to the Heart of Me," which suggest his solo career will not be so much an altered direction for his music as a refinement of his approach. Navarro is an open-hearted songwriter who conveys sincerity and feeling in his attractive folk-rock music and gruff bass-baritone voice. The entity that was Lowen & Navarro cannot be duplicated by only one of them, but Navarro proves himself an effective performer on his own.
Live at McCabe’s Review
by William Ruhlmann