Mike Atkinson

Joe Danks – Bear On Ice EP

Posted in LeftLion, singles reviews by Mike A on March 10, 2013

Originally published in LeftLion magazine.

Born into a musical family – his parents’ band, Wholesome Fish, have been plying their trade since time immemorial – Joe Danks has been surrounded by music all his life. Now aged 17, he is quickly coming into his own as a characterful singer-songwriter and an engaging performer. Inspired by the likes of Neil Hannon, Elliott Smith and Nick Drake, Joe’s songs offer wry, doleful observations on love and life, with lyrics that veer from open-hearted straightforwardness to intriguing obliqueness. Stylistically, we’re in acoustic-folk territory, skilfully arranged and performed – most notably by Joe’s mother Beth, whose melodic fiddle playing offers a sympathetic, touching counterpoint to her son’s expressions of teenage angst. This is particularly evident on the upbeat Hook Line and Sinker, whose nautical metaphor is extended on the yearning, lovelorn Buoyancy Aid. Elsewhere, Bear On Ice is mysterious and sombre, while More Than Milk hides an unexplained riddle within a break-up song.

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