Raised by English professors in the backwoods of Kentucky, reading P.G. Wodehouse and Shakespeare and listening to Randy Newman and Paul Simon, Dan Cohen's music represents a few different facets of contemporary Americana. It is surreally Southern, and yet cosmopolitan at the edges, if not quite "sophisticated." Domesticated, yes, but not quite ready for the good china.
Dan began playing guitar at age 13 and started writing his first songs shortly afterwards.
"Writing and playing have always seemed to go hand-in-hand for me," he says. "I've never had a lot of interest in playing other people's songs. Listening, sure - but not really playing. I feel like... they did that already! I can't do it better than that. I better go do my own thing - figure out what that is."
Figuring that out led him to college, to Philadelphia for a few years, and then to Nashville, where he quickly garnered a reputation as a blazing picker as well as a talented writer, penning songs with hit-makers like Jeffrey Steele, Bob diPiero, and Don Poythress. He began getting work playing on demo sessions and a few masters, as well, working with veteran producers such as Blake Chancey, Scott Hendricks, Billy Joe Walker, Jr, Jay Joyce, Desmond Child and others. After stints on the road with various national country acts, including Tracy Byrd, Bryan White, and Andy Griggs, he landed a major label recording contract with Sony Music as cofounder of the group Stone.
"That was a great experience, even though the plug got pulled on us. I got to work with Don Gehman and learned how to wield a major label budget, after a fashion. And I learned all about some of the...er...'constraints' of working with a big label."
Cohen suddenly found himself with no label deal and no gig.
"I kinda panicked, really. I started taking any gig that was offered to me. And then one night I'm on stage, backing up some country artist, and my mind started wandering and i got totally lost and screwed up the song - which was a big power ballad, of course! And I thought, 'What the hell am I doing here?' And i quit."
He went back to Nashville and started writing. And writing. And writing.
"I got out a bunch of old records - the stuff that got me into music to begin with - and just started writing for me. I didn't think about who would like it or who would want to cut it or whether it would work for radio or anything."
The result was his self-titled first solo record. He signed with Weston Boys, an independent label based in Nashville and Austin which has a mission of letting artists make what they want to make. Quite a lot of ground is covered on that first record, from chicken pickin' instrumentals to piano ballads, but the gems are the songs "Lullaby" and "Even Us."
"I'm proud of the diversity of textures on that record. At the same time, it's kind of all over the place," says Cohen about the record.
Dan Cohen: Vocals and Guitar
"Hope You Don't Change Your Mind," single, currently playing on A/C format radio and internet radio
Dan Cohen - LP - released 9/4/07 (Weston Boys Records)
Shh - LP - released 10/2/08 (Weston Boys Records)
Bluebird - Spring '13 - (Weston Boys Records)
"Dan Cohen," by Steve Wine
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The liner notes on Dan Cohen's debut disc list the instruments used, and they include a gourd, screw...The liner notes on Dan Cohen's debut disc list the instruments used, and they include a gourd, screwdriver, hambone and candleholder, spoons, the floor and goat toes.
Yes, the vibe's a bit loose on "Dan Cohen," which is part of the record's charm. It also helps that former English major Cohen is an ingratiating singer, a nifty picker and a talented songwriter with a knack for catchy melodies and clever lyrics (he name-checks John Keats and George Carlin in the same line).
Cohen was born in New Orleans, lives in Nashville and draws on musical elements from both cities. He plays horn-driven funk, jazzy pop, greasy soul, three instrumentals and a lullaby while addressing such topics as faith, addiction and trucking. The extensive list of instruments might suggest anything goes, but Cohen actually exercises great economy, delivering his love-struck message on "Marie" in only 12 words. Pretty good for an English major.
CHECK THIS OUT: Cohen's solo acoustic guitar is all that's needed on the lovely instrumental "Matt & Bridget."
“Dan Cohen (Weston Boys)," Lesley Jones
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There’s an under-the-radar musical treasure in Nashville named Dan Cohen. His self-titled debut alb...There’s an under-the-radar musical treasure in Nashville named Dan Cohen. His self-titled debut album has a touch of moody blues, traces of classic country and funky, soulful New Orleans jazz, making it not only a pleasurable listen, but a clever and intricate work of art. Cohen’s impeccable talents on the guitar move with every track (including three instrumental compositions) and his Lyle Lovett-like voice and energetic style are magnetic. On top of that, he’s got a flair for lyrics, “I’ve got two wooden nickels and a rabbit’s foot/ Livin’ on luck like a small-time crook/ Steal a little sun, save it for the rain/ Bring it home to mama and I put it in the bank” (“Rabbit’s Foot”). In a nutshell, this album is a perfect mixture of mature and retro styles making it both familiar and edgy.
"Dan Cohen (Weston Boys)," by Bob Strauss
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This witty new singer-songwriter sounds more than a bit like Lyle Lovett with his deceptively laid-b...This witty new singer-songwriter sounds more than a bit like Lyle Lovett with his deceptively laid-back, subtly swinging sound. But Cohen's no Texas slacker; he hails from New Orleans, and you can hear it in the funky horns and jazzy beats that energize this collection.
Cohen has a sophisticated, celebratory take on lowdown living, but when he's not cracking wise, he's making you feel the hurt--and does both, expertly, on the ambivalent marvel "You can't Break My Heart the Way I Want You To." Mainly a Guitarist, Cohen also plays something called "goat toes"; I don't even want to know.
"Dan Cohen - Self-Titled," by J.A. Cheong
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This self-titled debut album may seem at first listen as somewhat unfocused but somewhere between th...This self-titled debut album may seem at first listen as somewhat unfocused but somewhere between the 2nd spin and what must now be the “umpteenth-lost-count-stuck-in-my-CD-player-for-the-past-week spin,” it has become an absolute must-listen for anyone that appreciates smart lyrics, infectious hooks, and unique performance. The songs are not the typical cookie-cutter “intro from column A, chorus from column B, bridge from column C” formulaic drivel that passes for music on most releases. Instead, lyrics such as “You quoted Keats, I quoted Carlin/I said we’re two of a kind/You agreed and I said darling/Hope you don’t change your mind” are at times witty, ironic, and/or literate without being precious or affected.
“Eclectic” may be the best term to describe the variety of style and tracks of this CD. The styles range from Delta blues to swing to honky-tonk to pure pop. Cohen, who wrote or co-wrote all 13 tracks, shows an almost chameleon-like ability to inhabit the different characters of the very different songs ranging from the swaggering tough in “Rabbit’s Foot”, the fun-loving small town boy of “My Side of Town”, to the sinister and amorphous narrator (addiction?) of “Waiting at the Bottom.” In fact, the downright creepy mood of “Waiting at the Bottom” calls to mind another Cohen – Leonard – and the classic downer “Everybody Knows” as well as Sting’s “Moon Over Bourbon Street.”
Cohen’s vocal range and phrasing is immediately reminiscent of two prolific singer-songwriters: Lyle Lovett and Randy Newman with a touch of Gershwin – particularly on “Hope You Don’t Change Your Mind” and “You Can’t Make Break My Heart the Way I Want You To.” The ironic “When You Don’t Come Home” and the long haul trucker (“Skipping scales, clipping rails, and missing two taillights”) tune “Jackknife” would not sound out of place on Merle Haggard album of the 70’s in themes if not in voice. The CD also has 3 instrumentals that showcase Cohen’s considerable talent as a guitarist. Rounding out the set are two ballads – the aptly titled “Lullaby” and the melancholy and bittersweet “Even Us” – which is suggestive of the best of Rufus Wainright and a less depressed Nick Drake.
Despite all the artists that come to mind when listening to this intriguing CD, the conclusion is very clear – Dan Cohen, in this debut, in content and in sound – sounds like no other but uniquely, Dan Cohen. With so many new releases coming out everyday competing for your ear and dollar – do yourself a favor – buy this one. It’s worth at least a listen, if not a ten or a hundred more.
"Dan Cohen," by William Ruhlmann
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Dan Cohen, a Nashville-based musician who makes a living backing country artists such as Tracy Byrd ...Dan Cohen, a Nashville-based musician who makes a living backing country artists such as Tracy Byrd and T. Graham Brown, is both a clever songwriter and an accomplished guitarist, and he is intent on demonstrating both talents on his self-titled debut album. On his compositions, Cohen portrays himself as a lovable loser with a taste for similes and metaphors he doesn't mind mixing (one verse of the lead-off track, ""Rabbit's Foot,""goes, "So I wear my soul like alligator skin/Hard as leather with a toothy grin/Stubborn as an anvil, crazy as a clown/But I smile for you when the sun goes down"). He usually seems to be involved, either happily or unhappily, with some woman who is a cut above him socially and intellectually ("You quoted Keats, I quoted Carlin"), and he alternately aspires to raise himself to her level or, more likely, bring her down to his. He also alternates between tuneful ballads and honky tonk rave-ups, and he tosses in three instrumentals that establish his talents as a finger-picking guitarist. But his least emphasized, yet most accessible talent may be his rich, warm tenor, which producer Matt King mikes closely on the ballads, making for a sound somewhat like Jackson Browne, but smoother. That asset may actually help Cohen succeed as a frontman.
"Dan Cohen," by Chuck Dauphin
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Every now and then, you hear a disc that is hard to put your finger on. This one is one of those. ... Every now and then, you hear a disc that is hard to put your finger on. This one is one of those. Dan Cohen has a style that is hard to pigeonhole. He’s a little bit Country, a little bit Rock, with just a pinch of Bluegrass thrown in for good measure. Of course, with Matt King handling the production duties, that would stand to reason. There’s a little bit of everything here, ranging from the quirky, bluesy sound of cuts like “Rabbit’s Foot,” “When You Don’t Come Home,” and “Waiting At The Bottom.”
There’s a little bit of Haggard-style sounds on “Hope You Don’t Change Your Mind,” which allows some spotlight time for Adam Jones’ fabulous trombone work. He’s emotional on the enchanting “Lullaby” and down-home on the instrumental “Pete & Elizabeth.” While this may not have much of a chance of making it at the narrow field of radio, people who find this will be very much entertained!
"Dan Cohen," by John Heidt
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Cohen has toured as a guitar player with a number of mainstream country acts, and uses this solo ...
Cohen has toured as a guitar player with a number of mainstream country acts, and uses this solo effort to stretch a bit. The songs are well-written and cover a number of styles from the funky soul of “Rabbit’s Root” to the jazzy “Hope You Don’t Change Your Mind” to the acoustic fingerstyle heaven instrumental “Matt & Bridget.” Lyrically, the songs go from clever to funny to charming. “Jackknife” is the first new and interesting take on a truck driver in about 30 years. The title of “You Can’t Break My Heart the Way I Want You To” pretty much says it all.
Cohen’s vocals are excellent and range from the growly New Orleans feel of “Marie” to the ballad loveliness of “Lullaby,” the slinky soul of “Rabbit’s Foot” to the pure power pop heaven of “Even Us.” And his skill as a guitarist makes him the proverbial triple-threat; whether it’s stomping country like “My Side Of Town,” the jazzy jug band music of “You Can’t Break My Heart the Way I Want You To,” or the, for lack of a better word, country-jazz fusion of the instrumental “Nuke-Ya-Ler Chikkin,” he’s more than up to the task.
30, 45, 60, or 90 minutes
up to 4 hours total
originals, covers, or both
covers may include:
born on the bayou
i saw her standing there
call me the breeze
oh lonesome me
mary had a little lamb
ain't no sunshine
take the money and run
peaceful easy feeling
last will and testament
the long run
i've got a woman
workin' man's blues
knock on wood
standing on shaky ground
the house is a-rockin'
There are no upcoming dates at this time.