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With the release of his first EP, From Nowhere, Dan Croll has earned himself a spot on the list of artists you should keep an eye out for this year. From Nowhere is a 5 song EP that features Croll’s eclectic mix of electronic and folk while showcasing his talent as a solo artist. During college, Croll played with a myriad of different groups, but says that he finally realized he was most comfortable with going solo during his final year there.
The idea of being on one’s own is not only found in the production of the music, but also in the meaning of the lyrics themselves. “From Nowhere”, the EP’s title track, focuses on the idea of being left behind by one’s lover, both physically and emotionally. The song is upbeat, featuring lots of synthesized drumbeats and a heavy focus on bubbly keyboard work throughout. “From Nowhere” also closes the EP, this time in the form of a Baarsden Remix. Here, the song takes on a mellower, even melancholy feeling. The synth beats are still there, as is Croll’s reverberating voice, but this time it feels as if he is calling to you, the listener, from the end of a tunnel. The longing in his voice is heightened by a distance the electronic sounds create. The listener is in a constant tug of war with the electronic sound and Croll’s voice – you want to reach out to him, but he is hidden behind a veil of synthetic beats, coupled with his own familiarity with isolation and loneliness.
The second song on the EP is “Compliment Your Soul”, an upbeat number that will more often than not get confused for an optimistic love song. Of course, the refrain “I just want to compliment your soul” is wrapped up in a blanket of more synthetic beats, acoustic guitar, and a bright, brassy horn section. However, by this second track Croll’s mysterious personality is already pervasive. With lyrics such as, “I whispered your name/ I went home, we stared blank/ To the pages I loved” that pattern of internal reflection coupled with loneliness may get overlooked on the first listen. But that seems to be Croll’s purpose: the beats mislead you, while simultaneously drawing you back for another listen, and another, and another – until you can absorb the full meaning.
“Only Ghost”, the fourth track on the album, is just another gem from this EP. Though not as catchy as those before it, the emotion is palpable. In an interview with Interviewmagazine.com, Croll spoke about how the death of a friend a few years back inspired the song: “It was kind of around the time when I was about to head on a family holiday,” said Croll, “I didn’t want to head on a family vacation and have fun. I just wanted to be alone, stay at home, think about it all and take it all in.” From the start, “Only Ghost” seems as if it will follow a predictable, weepy, acoustic guitar influenced path: the harmonies and instrumentals are simple and mournful from the get go. But then shortly after the opening bars comes that unique electronic sound Croll brings to every track, creating an ebb and flow of energy and emotion that matches the song’s inspiration.
Croll’s overall sound varies from track to track on this EP – from electronic to folk and back, sometimes even within the same song. His style calls to memory groups like Geographer, Passion Pit, and Foster the People. However, his inspiration draws from farther back; Croll has cited musicians Burt Bacharach, Brian Wilson, and James Taylor with the inciting encouragement Croll needed to begin making his own music.
Though From Nowhere was released in September of 2012 in the United Kingdom, Croll’s EP has just hit shelves here in the states this past March. Croll recently revealed on his official Facebook page that the release of his first full-length album is just on the horizon – hopefully bringing audiences more of the push and pull between self-awareness and optimism that made this EP so remarkable.