Daniel Levi Goans
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Daniel Levi Goans

Greensboro, North Carolina, United States

Greensboro, North Carolina, United States
Folk Singer/Songwriter

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Every now and then you discover a raw, talented musician who has the power to showcase a variety of styles from album to album. Daniel Levi Goans is one of those special musicians. Hailing from Greensboro, North Carolina, Goans is part of a duo with his wife, Lauren Plank Goans. About two years ago, Goans escaped to an old library off the banks of the Chesapeake Bay to write a thought provoking folk album called BrotherStranger. While creating it, Goans recorded the new EP titled, Another Side. He chose the perfect title for this, because it indeed shows another side of the duo. Daniel Levi Goans’ newest EP, Another Side, is the perfect addition to your music collection if you’re a fan of Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, or any kind of creative music. You should continue to follow his work because he always has his fans wondering what he’s going to come up with next. - Wordkrapht


It’s not often we get the chance to point you to dive-y Odin’s Den, but with the bar’s increased attention paid to booking, we hope to keep babbling on about the place. For now, we’re pleased to point you to a husband & wife folk act from North Carolina, Daniel and Laura Goans. Boasting an unaffected Appalachian mood with slightly more poptimistic tendencies, they complement each other, vocally, well enough. But what separates them from the ever-growing folk herd is their atmospheric ambition, capitalizing on Daniel’s accomplished piano swells and Laura’s supporting strength. - Orlando Weekly


"Success in folk music hinges on two variables: wide-eyed sincerity and charismatic mystery. Open up, and you become every listener's best friend; cloak yourself in metaphor, and you speak for the masses. NC native Daniel Levi Goans pulls off both with equal elan, particularly on his lush 2011 album 'BrotherStranger,' which combines The Avett Brothers' heartfelt balladry with plainspoken Dylan, Guthrie and Seegeresque power. Goans' new release, 'Another Side EP,' also packs a ramshackle jolt of summer energy, reflecting his romantic and music partnership with new wife, Lauren. Folio Weekly chatted with Goans about his solo act turning into a duo, moving beyond pop-rock roots and honoring the folk tradition." - Folio Weekly


Goans is a profound songwriter who should not be taken lightly. His music will open your mind and enlighten you. As his Facebook page states, “Goans leaves a peace in the footsteps of his voice, a suggestion that while beauty is often well hidden, it is freely found.” We had the opportunity to set up an interview with the folk singer/songwriter after announcing that he would be featured in IMR’s Indie Acoustic Issue. - Indie Music Reviewer


Also this year we've encountered how small the world really is. Petur Olafsson, a member of one of our Swedish bands The Elliots, has a day job working at an advertising agency in Sweden. We have worked with Petur and his band mates for years and have found many placements for their songs. While working on a spot for Riis Bilglass, a Norwegian glass company, Petur knew he needed a killer song, so he turned to Crucial. We helped him find "Heights So High" by Daniel Levi Goans, the perfect song for his commercial spot; and the now Norwegians can't get enough of the song. Not only does this placement exemplify the global nature of music licensing today, but also is a perfect example of how artists are helping artists around the world. - Crucial Music


North Carolina-based indie-folk troubadour Daniel Levi Goans, formerly of Nashville-based folk rock band The War, self-released his beautiful sophomore solo album BrotherStranger last September. Recorded, mixed and produced by Goans himself, "Bon Iver-style" in an old library on the Chesapeake Bay, the lush music captures the beauty around it. He even used his surroundings to help create his music with creaking floorboards, old tables and book-bindings being put to good use. Lyrically, Daniel uses an evocative folk narrative to comment on affairs of the heart, nature and life with a strong Christian message.

The sprawling "Albatross" opens the album with ethereal cello and a softly chugging rhythm and introduces us to Daniel's gentle yet assertive voice on the seven-minute track. The ambient almost-instrumental "Arcana Echoes" follows with the wispy, wind-swept soundtrack to a breezy day on the Bay. The soulful stand out track "Gates Of Heaven" is a gospel-inflected hymm with softly picked acoustic guitars, big open piano notes and an angelic choir of uplifting voices. The title track, "Brother Stranger" is a twangy, waltzing duet with guest vocalist Lauren Plank that builds into a rag-tag jam before fading out with their Heavens-reaching harmonies. The steady strumming, harmonica, and lively melodies lead to a stomp-and-clap back porch jam on "Guess I'd Better Take Off My Shoes". Another standout track, "Enemies" breezes by in seven minutes with insistent strumming, heartfelt vocals and a touching story of love and redemption. "Blue To Black" features churning fingerstyle guitars and breathy vocals. The piano-led balladry of "My Mind Became My Home" stands out with its soaring, room-filling vocal melodies and close-knit harmonies. "Do You?" adds a little bit of bounce to the mix with springy acoustic guitars and more gorgeous female backing vocals. That spirit follows on "Silver Tongue" with its handclaps, jangly percussion and choir-like sing-along chorus. The reverent "57" features cyclical, finger-picked guitars and pleading lyrics straight from Psalm 57 set to glorious male/female vocals. The twelve-track album closes with the epic almost fourteen-minute long "Family Name" and it's cascading piano, yearning electric guitar and a tale of love like only Daniel can tell.

With his stunning sophomore album, BrotherStranger, Daniel Levi Goans shows that he is a voice to be heard in the folk scene. I only wish I had heard this album when it was released last year because it would have made it onto my Top 10 list without a doubt. - Atlas and the Anchor


Listen to the podcast for a few tracks from BrotherStranger. - Indie Music Sampler


Features Goans often. - Longtown Sound


Daniel Levi Goans was kind enough to take time out of his busy schdule to answer questions about his life, music and getting married. - Condicast


See song #1. - Idiosyncratic Transmissions


1. For many artists, they cite a defining moment for themselves when they knew they wanted to be a singer. For many it was the appearance of Elvis on the Ed Sullivan show, to another generation it was the Beatles’ appearance on Sullivan half a decade later. Is there such a defining moment for you?
Two moments come to mind immediately, one involving The Beatles actually. That first moment was a few weeks after I entered high school. I heard The Beatles' White Album for the first time and I fell in love. Particularly "Dear Prudence" and "Blackbird" captured my imagination and I became aware of some measure of the power and depth of words placed over a backdrop of beautiful sound. Believe it or not, I had never heard either of these songs until that year (1999). My parents sat me down and asked if I was on drugs, I replied, "No, I've discovered some wonder!" Or something along those lines. The second moment happened when I was 17. I went to the Greensboro Coliseum and heard The Boss. From the moment he took the stage, I felt both inspired and awed. I kept thinking, "I've got to do this. I wonder if I can...maybe, just maybe I've got it in me..."

2. When you’re not creating music what are you listening to? Who are some of your favorites?
This question is always a blessing to answer because I can pay homage to those on whose shoulders I stand. As a folk singer, I am frequenting studying Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Van Morrison and James Taylor records. As far as current talent, I'm listening to Joe Pug, Josh Ritter, Tallest Man on Earth, Bon Iver, M. Ward, and James Blake, to name a few. I can honestly say that I cherish music, both making and listening.


3. What would you say is your greatest moment so far as an artist, either on record or live?
Two weeks ago I released a new album entitled BrotherStranger and I had a release event in my hometown of Greensboro, NC. I decided to try something new in the promotion of the record release and in the event itself. Instead of planning a whole tour, I focused all my energy on the release event in NC. I'd say one of the greatest moments of my career to date was the final song. We closed the night with "We Shall Overcome" and because of all the planning and rehearsals, we were able to put together a version that utilized fourteen musicians (cello, upright bass, violin, 2 trumpets, a baritone horn, a banjo, an acoustic guitar, an organ, two electric guitars, a full drum kit, a percussion kit, a floor tom and 6 part vocal harmony). The arrangement called for a steady build until the last song when all the horns came in and we sang at the top of our lungs. It felt to me like I was standing in the middle of a storm of sound and passion. I will never forget it.

4. Do you believe music can change the world or is just something to listen to? How much can music influence current events?
I know that music can change the world. Music can and has set the tone for culture in the past and continues to do so. Music has resulted in conversations about topics that could otherwise be ignored between people who are dissimilar. It can be used to connect people and it touches the timeless parts of humanity. Music can be used to draw attention to injustice, provide balm during seasons of mourning or darkness, and to enrich a celebration. Music is a wondrous and mysterious thing.

5. How has technology affected the music industry? How has technology affected your career as a musician?
Technology has been a huge blessing to me and enabled me to produce my first two albums. Technology enables studios to be more portable and sound quality to be more excellent with less factors controlled. In addition, I now have ways to share music and make my music available all over the world with a few clicks. On the other hand, CD sales have dropped dramatically as a result of technology and there is an overabundance of mediocrity on the scene. I think that technology is neither good nor bad in and of itself. It can diminish beauty or it can heighten it.

6. Now for my Barbara Walters question: If you were a pair of shoes what type of shoes would you be?
Intriguing question. I've just asked my best friend and fiance, she replied with these words, and I'll agree with her, "Something worn in. Something that can't lie. Old, brown, leather and weathered." Rhyming...nice. She may be a songwriter yet. - Voices to Hear


As a graduate of film school, I know a little film history. Yup, that’s right, the musician that went to film school. Sound familiar? Another famous musician or two has done the same thing. One was Jim Morrison. Alas I digress. Being that I had to take a lot of courses that dealt with film I obviously know a little about some actors and actresses that many people may not know. Why? Well, some have been out of the spotlight or dead for quite some time. One such actress is Natalie Wood. What makes her famous? Well she is in one of the top 100 movies of all time: West Side Story, as per the peeps at AFI (American Film Institute).

Additionally, Natalie Wood did have a bit of a storied career. Not to mention a public profile marriage to Robert Wagner. Of course most of this is old news as it happened about 30 years ago. That’s eons in the entertainment world and probably beginning of time in terms of technology.

For some reason or another the captain of the boat, or rather the yacht, has recently come out stating the original investigation was flawed and that Natalie’s husband is to blame. He’s saying that Natalie Wood’s drowning was likely caused by Mr. Wagner. Apparently this yacht man’s comments are so convincing that it has led the LA authorities to reopen the case of Natalie Wood’s death and investigate it further. That’s quite a thing. A Hollywood mystery to be sure.

Being the sweet individual we’re publicly told Natalie Wood was and the crazy circumstances around her death, I’m thinking Daniel Levi Goans song “Gates of Heaven” seems really appropriate. It’s not a polished commercial thing, no it’s a backwoods, country porch, filled with heart kind of thing.

While the character in the song is wondering if they’ll get into heaven, it’s quite the question anyone in a death mystery could also ask. Morbid, no? Well, lets move on to the good things about the song and think positive thoughts about the investigation.

I dig the opening piano bit. Slowly elements get introduced. the acoustic guitar. The bass. The vocal. The story. They all get stirred into the mix and create a really intimate vibe. The line that is pretty wild here is “I thought I heard the Gates of Heaven close. I thought I heard God’s voice saying no.” Wow. Gotta wonder what would prompt that. What kind of sin would one have to have committed in life for their God to say no dice, you’re not wanted. That’s yet another mystery. - Single of the Day


Faith W: I really enjoyed listening to Brother Stranger. This is your second album?

Daniel Levi Goans: Yes, m’aam , this is my second folk album. I was in a band before this and we had a couple records out. We formed in 2003, and it was more like an indie, rock/pop sound, and I was not the lead singer. So this folk stuff is what I’ve been doing for the last three and a half years or so.

FW: What led to the transition to folk music?

DLG: In the old band, the other guys were older than me, and they were married with kids and they were like, “We want to take a break.” And was writing a bunch of songs on my own and I just wasn’t really using them. It was just like an expression to myself. A buddy of mine heard one of them, and said, “I think you’re a folk singer, and you need to start recording these songs.” He said he listened to that song 25 times in two weeks. This was about three and a half or four years ago, while everything with the band was winding down.
I’ve always liked folk music. It’s always been the music of story, and community. I’ve always been drawn to it. When I write, I like to tell stories. My father is a storyteller as well, so when I started writing it came out in that genre.


FW: There’s a lot of imagery and introspection in your lyrics. I listened to your songs on ReverbNation, which was cool because they have the lyrics to you songs as well. And I read the lyrics before listening to the songs, and they read more like poetry, and that’s because of your use of imagery.

DLG: Words are very important to me. I studied English Literature at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and I think that really informed my songwriting. I’ve written with pop artists who use less images and less poetic language, and it’s never quite as fulfilling to me because I think that many of the things I try to talk about are things that are beyond words, and so I find metaphors and images. The ties that connect us are deeper than words can ever express. We have to point to images and the beautiful things in this world, or the haunting things in the world that catch our eye and kind of stir us up.

FW: What authors influence your music?

DLG: Yeah, this last record was heavily influence by an author from North Carolina named Thomas Wolfe. He wrote a novel, “Look Homeward, Angel” when he was my age. He was 26 when he wrote it. John Steinbeck also influenced the themes more than the songwriting. “East of Eden” was a great influence for this album as well.

FW: You often use contrast in your music. Is that something that naturally comes to you?

DLG: I think when we’re younger we believe that darkness and despair is somehow deeper and more substantial than lightness. But, I think the reason for that is that lightness and hope is often portrayed in a “pie-in-the-sky” or a trite way. I believe that real hope exists, and I believe that people can change things. Civil rights is a big inspiration for me. I live in Greensboro, NC and that’s where the movement started. My father has worked in different capacities for racial reconciliation in the South. So I think about these kinds of themes quite a bit, and I hope that my music takes a honest look into the darkness and the hardship that does exist in this world and in our lives, but also affirms the hope and beauty that is deeper.

FW: So, you focus on the greater good of humanity.

DLG: I think that we’re going somewhere good. I’m sorting through this stuff in my own life, but I believe that in order to love other people, we weep with people who are weeping and we rejoice with people who are rejoicing. I think that it’s important to acknowledge the difficulty in life and in our experience. But I also think that to be fully alive means to address both sides, and not to diminish one to focus on the other. Much indie folk music focuses on melancholy introspection. I think it’s selfish to just write songs about only about how you feel and your experience and the darkness of that. It’s like giving yourself over to despair. I think it’s a greater thing to acknowledge the fullness of life. Not to be afraid to be sad, but not to privilege sadness over joy.

FW: It’s easy to fall into the trap as an artist to allow negative feelings to take on a life of its own in your work, when the truth is that there is a bigger world out there.

DLG: That’s right. And I’m still working on how to articulate the mixture of things. I’ve noticed in my own process that there’s two ways for me to create. One is that I can look down and into myself, and go deeply inside of myself. Or I can look up and out. It’s a lot harder to create “up and out” than it is to create “down and in”. If you have a wound, and you keep touching yourself and messing with it, you can get deeply involved in your own wound. But if you look up and out you’re not going to remove yourself from your own perspective, so you don’t have to focus on making sure you are included in your song - The Lobes


Really cool indie folk - Independent Artist Buzz


After spending seven years on the road touring with the Nashville based band The War, singer and songwriter Daniel Levi Goans returned to his native North Carolina to begin writing and recording his first effort under his own name. A few years and albums later, the talented musician has been working hard on developing his craft, which is showcased on his latest release BrotherStranger. Using his surroundings as influence for this music and lyric writing, Goans “looks into the loneliest moments of (the) human experience” with this record, with an eye on “weav(ing) them into a place of tenderness and safety.” These 13 tracks, which were recorded over the course of one year in an old library on Chesapeake Bay, are a strong representation of the high level of musicianship and songwriting that Goans has achieved during his time as both a sideman and solo artist.

Goans’ music contains an atmospheric element that is both laid back and intense at the same time. On songs such as “Arcana Echoes,” Goans uses vocals and multiple instruments weaving in and out of the listener’s focus to develop a sense that the melody and harmony are at once firm and yet moving around the peripheral. An instrumental song, this track brings to light Goans’ ability to move beyond lyrical content to develop a connection with his audience. While he could have used lyrics on each track as a means of connecting to his audience, by mixing in instrumental moments such as this, the songwriter is leading listeners down an unexpected yet enjoyable musical avenue. Keeping them guessing as to what is coming next and preventing the album from becoming predictable.

As a guitarist, Goans sticks fairly close to the American folk genre of playing. On songs such as the title track “Brother Stranger,” Goans plays a simple, yet effective, bass-chord strum pattern that floats behind the main melody and vocal harmonies in a way that highlights the harmony without taking away focus from the lyrical content of the tune. On songs like “Enemies,” the guitarist takes more of an arpeggiated approach as he fingerpicks his way through the chord progression. Even here, there is a strong sense of a melody line being brought out by Goans’ picking hand. Though he uses an acoustic guitar throughout the album, his use of multiple right hand techniques such as fingerpicking, strumming and mixing the two together, Goans keeps things interesting while not straying too far from the folk genre that he is influenced by and uses as the backdrop to his songwriting.

Overall, BrotherStranger is a strong effort from Goans. Showcasing his abilities as a songwriter, performer and arranger, the album is a great introduction to this talented musician for those listeners that have yet to discover his artistic catalogue. - Guitar International


The Southern folk tunes of Daniel Levi Goans are exceptionally-intimate and classy. Daniel's folk voice dabbles in rootsy music with light doses of percussion, strings, piano, guitar, and aural soundscapes. The eerie "Arcana Echoes" features ghostly whistles, otherworldly sounds, sparse guitars, and instrumental magnificence for a lo-fi composition. The laid-back, "Blue To Black" and "My Mind Became My Home," echos the ambiance of Ben Folds--another Southern music maestro. The songs are poetic, languid, and memorable. Overall, Daniel's cafe or coffee shop-esque vocal and instrumental delivery is sincere, simplistic, and slightly bluesy. The twelve songs possess an inherent quality that is quite magical. The pensive guitar stylings are also meditative and reflective. At any rate, Brother Stranger is a harmonic delight with an uncanny ability to stir up pleasant emotions, child-like memories, and good 'ol Southern fun. ~ Matthew Forss - Inside World Music


We took our first folk lesson with Daniel Levi Goans, our artist of the week. An American poet that has a lot to say, and the good news is, the man has a talent to put his words together and marry them beautifully with his simple chords progressions. A beautiful discovery. - The Good Music Fox


Daniel Levi Goans sold 50,000 albums with his previous band, The War. Solely from the contributions of his fans, he raised nearly 10,000 dollars to record his new album BrotherStranger. The album evokes a familiar southern heritage of narrative. His stripped down musical compositions capture the rich tradition of American folk music by focusing on honest storytelling. At first listen, Goans music brings Josh Ritter to mind with his vivid songwriting and sultry vocals. - Wander Radio


While searching for my newest musician to write (on my blog) about, I found Daniel Levi Goans. And wow, I am really glad that I did. Goans has such a smooth and sensual voice. While I am writing this, his music is playing in the background, and I have a smile on my face.

Goans has a confidence in his voice that is thrilling to hear. His music tells a story with every song. I am reminded of music from Dylan and Biaz when I listen to Goans. He has a way of saying things through his music that really makes the listener think. In my opinion, Goans's music does exactly what music is suppose to do. It makes the listener feel at ease, while at the same time, the listener is hearing a story that makes him/her wonder and ponder life.

I sincerely recommend... David Levi Goans... Goans deserves to be recognized for his wonderful contribution to the music world - Bohm Music - Bohm Music


“I really dig your music!” - IMRadio


“Love the music.” - Idiosyncratic Transmissions


After two years, thousands of dollars in support from friends and family, hundreds of miles and countless hours, it’s finally happened. Daniel Levi Goans’ labor of love has come to fruition with the release of his sophomore self-produced album, “BrotherStranger,” this month.
Described by Goans as a concept album about the joys of humanity’s shared connection with each other, as well as the sorrow of never fully understanding others, “BrotherStranger” is a record that the Greensboro artist hopes captures the desire for unity while also exploring the struggles that often accompany the search for common ground.
The folk-narrative songwriting style of Goans’ first album, “Choice Cannonballs,” is evident in “BrotherStranger.” But it also reflects his growth as a musician since his first release.
Goans describes “Brother-Stranger” as “more ambitious and experimental” with complex instrumentation and arrangements. It is also an album that reflects the “honest brokeness and joy” of what Goans said has been an exciting yet humbling journey.
Pursuing a career as an independent folk artist and building it from the ground up is not what most people would deem a smart career move for a college graduate, and it has been a lonely road at times. But Goans has followed his heart and has matured on both a personal and artistic level since the release of “Choice Cannonballs” two-and-a-half years ago.
“I’ve been humbled and challenged greatly,” Goans said. “I think that deepening shows up in the sound and lyrics of 'BrotherStranger.’”
Recorded in a studio in a small library on the banks of the Chesapeake Bay, Goans said the music on the album was inspired by the “wildness of the scenes” around him.
The constant sound of waves crashing against a nearby pier and the wind coming off the bay and reverberating throughout the library resulted in
songs richly layered with a “number of ambient and ethereal sonic elements” surrounding the simple folk changes on the album, he said.
Last year, Goans was awarded a grant of nearly $1,200 by the United Arts Council of Greater Greensboro with support of the N.C. Arts Council and the partnering arts councils of the Central Piedmont Regional Artists Hub Program. The grant allowed him to upgrade his studio equipment, which included new microphones, software and monitors.
“These elements helped capture an array of subtleties I missed during my last process, where I had only one microphone, GarageBand (software) and iPod headphones,” he said.
In addition to the grant, Goans raised $9,675 through a successful Kickstarter campaign and is thankful for the support of everyone who rallied behind him to make the release of “BrotherStranger” possible.
Goans’ promotion of the album’s release has been anything but traditional, consisting of mud “graffiti,” posters, poems and other messages appearing throughout Greensboro in the days leading up to the album’s official release at the Blind Tiger on Sept. 17.
The 9.17.11 campaign was “inspired by the mysteries that also inspired the songs and sounds of the record,” Goans said. The release event was a success, he said, and was an evening full of music and community.
“Community is what folk music has always been about,” Goans said. “Recording and releasing the album has been a transition from loneliness to community. It feels like it’s grown much larger than me — beyond music or songs.”
Goans considers himself a North Carolina artist and, more specifically, a Greensboro artist.
“It is an honor to create in this vibrant location, and I believe that our city continues in the untamed spirit of the brave young men who started the sit-in movement,” he said. “In getting to know and collaborating with local artists and musicians, I’ve been deeply encouraged by what I see going on in this city.
“I am thrilled to call this place home, and I will do my best to bring blessings to the city that gave me my story.” - Greensboro News and Record


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

Photos

Bio

After seven years of touring and writing with Nashville based outfit The War, Daniel Levi Goans recorded Choice Cannonballs in the heat and humidity of a North Carolina summer in the very basement where he discovered his love for playing music as a child. His early explorations of the piano evolved into an attempt to capture the rich tradition of American folk. The songs are stripped down tributes to the folk storytelling tradition with sparse soundscapes that evoke the feverish density of the summer in which it was recorded.

Goans retreated into a small wooden library overlooking the Chesapeake Bay to record his second solo release. With over 50 songs prepared, he intended to echo the sultry Carolina-Folk accents of his first release, but the rhythms of the tides began to speak into his music. The walls, the shelves, and the spines of the books became a percussive backbone for the songs. The winds whipping in from the bay opened up space for the words to resonate, fortifying the unadulterated honesty of his writing. What was once the beading of moisture and a breeze rolling off the piedmont foothills was now a tempest, a rush of water both beautiful and dangerous.

Heeding to the winds and the waves on the Bay, BrotherStranger looks into the loneliest moments of human experience with a piercing gaze that weaves them into a place of tenderness and safety. These meditations are nestled in a poetic cadence that resists modern cynicism and fragmentation while harkening to a place in our hearts and our heritage that recognizes the sacred nature of narrative. Intrusive in his hope and with penetrating confidence, Goans leaves a peace in the footsteps of his voice, a suggestion that while beauty is often well hidden, it is freely found.