Daniel Wylie’s quest for dual nationality appears to be gathering momentum. That’s not a cynical comment, mind, rather an observation that he now does West Coast-influenced pop so well that he could almost qualify as a Californian native.
Car Guitar Star was recorded in Glasgow, so he does visit his homeland more often than you might think. But then at odds with that is the opening I Love America, a heart on sleeve homage to the country of his musical influences, with reference to California wine country and Central Park. But don’t go there after dark – Wylie’s not so daft that he doesn’t see the down side of the American dream, and the song also tells the story of getting ‘car jacked while eating a Big Mac’.
This is the album where Wylie gets back to doing what he does best, after a couple of intense flirtations with Gram Parsons-style country that, while never less than pertinent, masked the way he works best. Here he is in full romantic mood once again, proclaiming “I need you with me tonight” on Hold Me Close with unashamed abandon.
Wylie the melodist has never been away, though, and throughout his blend of tuneful guitar playing (step forward Green Peppers‘ Jim McCulloch) and bright yet slightly vulnerable vocals makes a winning mix. He’s even confident enough to offer the instrumental Grand Canyon Experience, neatly dividing the album in two.
There’s more of a punch in the guitar writing with Car Guitar Star, as if Wylie wants something rock-fuelled to hit the Pacific Coast Highway with. And the vocals have more attitude again, romantic for sure but with more conviction given to the executions of melody and lyrics. Wylie does still retain the endearing, slightly vulnerable quality of previous records, however, which suit his voice really well.
This is Wylie’s best work for some time, and the rich mine of songs he has at his disposal has a higher quality threshold than ever. And the fact these titles all deal with the first person means they instantly connect with the listener, something the Glaswegian has always managed to achieve in his understated, no-frills way.