Jad Fair / Danielson

Solid Gold Heart

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Jad Fair and Daniel Smith are true believers in the power of music and the forces of good, so it makes perfect sense that they would make an album together. At the same time, it wasn't a given that their world views would mesh quite as well as they do on Solid Gold Heart, a collaboration between Fair and Smith's latest edition of Danielson, especially since Smith's vision is often focused on spiritual concerns while Fair's obsessions are generally secular. But Solid Gold Heart turns out to be an ideal match between two wild talents; Smith and his musicians summon up a set of sweetly martial, melodic frameworks that are playful but rousing, and Fair fills them with passionate verse about the positive power of music and the importance of the positives in life, suggesting a cross between Norman Vincent Peale and the weird (but harmless) guy down at the coffee shop who really enjoys chocolate cake. Smith and Fair had the good sense to bring in members of the Brave Combo as ringers, and their horns and keyboards give this music a solid framework that's stronger and more accessible than the chaotic backdrops either Fair or Smith usually bring to the table. And when Fair and the Danielson crew come together on "Rockin' on the Good Side," as Jad declares "We're standing up for happiness, standing up for righteousness, standing up for sunshine" while comparing their rock power to each of the four Beatles as well as Daniel Johnston, the effect is sublime, like some pseudo-hip-hop jam with an inspired nerd spitting fire for love in all its forms. On one hand, you can call Solid Gold Heart a meeting of the minds between two of music's more inspired eccentrics, but what really makes this work is that Fair and Smith clearly believe in this stuff -- this music has enough heart, soul, and gentle fire to make a believer out of practically anyone, and captures the principals at the top of their game.

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