Few songwriters could claim to be as prolific as Daniel Wylie, but thenI suppose when one of your best places for composing songs is on the toilet you’re bound to hope for at least one new song in a day. Enough of the sanitary goings-on already, though, for The High Cost Of Happiness proves once again that Wylie can boast quality as well as quantity in his compositions.
Rather than being an excursion into Americana as it was first mooted, The High Cost Of Happiness finds Wylie exalted in sunshine pop of the first degree. The melodies unfold naturally, the jangly guitar accompaniment shave the west coast warmth he has picked up in California rather than Glasgow, and the backing harmonies are expertly delivered, precise yet natural.
Wylie’s subject matter tends towards love, despite the album title, and from the artwork and several lyrics it would seem he’s in it up to his neck. Songs like Move In With Me and That Was The Day positively gush about the other half, but tend to stop short of going over the top in their exultations.
And yet underneath this relative bonhomie there is the occasional stab of melancholy or hurt that tugs at the heartstrings. Songs like Tell Them The Truth are cautionary, with the singer advising “the truth will come to light, then one day you’ll find you’ve just been used”. Sung from the heart, this would seem to refer to a specific event or person in Wylie’s life, though of course he’s well mannered enough not to mention who. Unexpected words of defiance come to the surface in You’re The Only One That’s Going Down, with Wylie asserting, “maybe I don’t give a fuck, cause I’m still pushing on”. With the relatively gentle accompaniment his words carry a far greater impact.
As always with Wylie the melodic content is consistently good, and while no radical stylistic grounds are broken there’s no need when the songs are assured in construction and delivery. It’s criminal that these miniature gems aren’t likely to find a bigger audience, as they’re heartfelt writings that contain much more of an emotional content than the vapid offerings riding high in the charts at present.