A LIKENESS OF YOU is the first solo release from one of Australia's premier songsmiths, Dan Warner. It features twelve new songs, stories and portraits, including the curse of fading memories in 'Purple Flowers' and the lyrical and melodic childsplay of 'Fairies (now also with a fantastic film clip). The album was recorded at Craig Pilkington's Audrey Studios late 2004.
The list of musicians assembled was an impressive one and included Ian Kitney on drums; Barry Stockley on double bass; Mick Thomas on electric bass; Dave Moll and Dave Evans (The Band Who Knew Too Much) on piano; Charlie Owen, James Black and Al MacInnes on guitars; Jen Anderson on violin; Chris Altmann (The Vandas) on pedal steel; and Michael Barclay (WPA/The Messengers) on backing vocals.
Two years previously, Mick had visited Dan in New York where Dan had been living for two years, promoting a record, The Magic Rider, which he had made in 2000 with US guitarist, Kevin Garant. The tour had been eventful, but by the end of 2002 Dan was on the move again and, although he had demoed a lot of tracks with Kev in the States, none of the songs had ever been released.
In the winter of 2004, friend and fellow musician, Mick Thomas asked, "What happened to all those great songs I heard two years ago in New York?” He invited Dan Warner to his home studio to put down on tape any unrecorded songs that may be lurking about in his head; as Mick put it, 'just to see what you've got'.
Dan arrived on Mick's doorstep with an acoustic guitar and a head full of songs. He brought with him drummer, Ian Kitney. Ian and Dan had been in a band together through the mid 1990s Overnight Jones, formerly The Warner Brothers. During those years the band had made three albums (signed to Polygram Records for one of them), a couple of EPs and had had a couple of minor hits on the local Independent charts.
Mick set up Dan and Ian in two separate rooms and rolled the tape. Five hours, and about twenty-three songs later Mick had captured a unique recording that would form the basis of Dan Warner's first solo album, A Likeness of You to be released locally in 2005 on Mick's label, Croxton Records.
Dan: "The recording at Mick's went surprisingly well. I hadn't played with Ian for years; he was playing with Tim Rogers and the Temperance Union at the time."
"But we'd played so many gigs with Overnight Jones that Ian seemed to know where each song should sit. Which was lucky because he hadn't heard any of the songs before that day." Dan also remarked that he felt comfortable at Mick Thomas's studio. He and Mick had written and recorded a soundtrack there five years earlier for the CD ROM, Five Bells, which presented several works of mid twentieth century Australian poet, Kenneth Slessor. Dan had also recorded some sessions there with Al MacInnes, his old acoustic duo partner. During the 90s, Dan & Al played several long-term residencies at, some now defunct, legendary Melbourne venues - including four years at The Great Britain, seven years on a Sunday at The Punters Club in Brunswick St, and four years on a Tuesday night in the front bar of The Corner Hotel in Richmond. The residencies became such a part of Melbourne music life that, when Dan moved to the US in 2000, The Corner Hotel renamed its front bar, 'The Dan Warner Room'.
"Al and I recorded at several studios around town to try and capture the sound that we seemed to get so easily live. We just couldn't get it onto tape. In desperation we even miked up the PA at The Corner one afternoon. We also did a couple of sessions at Mick Thomas's studio. One of the songs we recorded there, 'Sunny Day', ended up on Isle of Hop, the Dan & Al record."
The session in 2004 with Ian Kitney went considerably better. So well that Dan decided to use most of the rhythm tracks recorded on that day, and several of vocals, for the new album. He took the tape to Craig Pilkington's Audrey Studios in Richmond where Dan and Craig spent the rest of the year building up the rest of the tracks.
"I had the perfect opportunity to make a very relaxed record in my home town and call in all my old friends and favourite players from Melbourne. Some songs are like a family reunion or something, everyone playing and singing along…" says Dan.
Music journalist and DJ, Jeff Jenkins, from RRR's 'Off The Record' has dubbed A LIKENESS OF YOU "album of the year". Likewise, Billy Pinnell says "Dan Warner is one of the best songwriters … anywhere".
"…as good a debut solo album as you'll hear anywhere this year." ****1/2
RAY PURVIS, The West Australian
"…thoughts and emotions swim up and put themselves on show with exquisite choice and timing."
JARROD WATT, ABC Radio
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