A recent description of Daniel Wylie had him down as the ‘California Dreaming Glaswegian’. An accurate label you might think, as Wylie’s brand of tuneful songwriting gets an appraisal through his work heading the Cosmic Rough Riders, and, more recently, gone solo.
Whilst unashamedly influenced by West Coast harmonies and melodies from the 1970s, Wylie has nonetheless applied his own personal stories to the musical formula, a feature of his work he has explored more pointedly since the Riders split. For Wylie was the Cosmic Rough Riders in all but name, his songwriting and production skills the bedrock of their sound.
So it proves ever more emphatically in the flesh, with songs from the two eras sharing the same airwaves with great ease. The Loser begins this collection, immediately countered by the carefree Unwind. Spotting the join is difficult, though careful observers may note a relaxation in Wylie’s solo work that, while never bordering on complacency, represents a more contented assurance to his writing.
Second album Panorama was the peak of first-era Cosmics, and this collection plunders it freely, lifting four songs. The Gun Isn’t Loaded is perhaps the most striking number, a reminder of the band’s Glasgow heritage while providing a prophetic glimpse of Wylie’s California dwelling.
Wylie is perhaps more selective with his solo choices, and the first single Make Love To The World is conspicuous by its absence. The joyous Move In With Me, meanwhile, could hardly represent a happier period of a relationship. This is the bread and butter of Wylie’s songwriting, the happiness of co-existing occasionally threatening to be unmasked by the frustration of having to compromise the author’s independence.
Throughout runs a strong sense of melody, assured arrangements and guitar work that fits hand in glove with the vocals. Now and then the comfortable, warm feeling these songs give is compromised, but that tends to be in the slightly edgier early Cosmic songs or the more recent solo work such as Tell Them The Truth, which tells it like it is, up close and personal.
The timing of this collection is interesting, as if Wylie wishes to round up his achievements so far to draw a line in the sand and start afresh. Previously he has spoken of following Americana more closely, influenced by the likes of Gram Parsons, though it would be a shame if he did so at the expense of his Celtic roots. For they complement his recently-found California sunshine perfectly, and so far have yielded the bittersweet pop gems that are well represented here.