Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.
In this morning’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we shine our gaze on Dan Weintraub, a veteran musician who has been recording and performing music for over three decades. Weintraub has released three new singles we’ll be delving into: ‘Janie Like No Other,’ ‘Because Love Lasts Forever,’ and ‘Light.’ Available to download and stream for free, are these songs worth including in one’s music collection? Let’s dig into them and find out.
Weintraub’s three songs are dedicated to Janie Chase Cozzi and her best friend Mary Harris. The two high school students, 15 and 16, were killed in a tragic car accident in Vermont last October. (An accident that killed five students in total.) Weintraub is a history teacher and the soccer coach from the school these students were from, and Cozzi was on his team and in his class.
Recorded with an eight piece acoustic ensemble, these three songs sound absolutely terrific. The mixes are superb, and Weintraub and his band have excellent chemistry. ‘Janie Like No Other,’ is a bright, celebratory song, one that breaks the mold of traditionally more mournful retrospectives on people who have passed away. This, I’d argue, is a very healthy way to approach the subject matter.
When five young lives are taken so abruptly from a community, it can be devastating. Weintraub’s lyricism on ‘Janie Like No Other’ is a “celebration of such a beautiful soul.” From the opening lines of the tune, Weintraub calls for unity in tragedy, and that’s often what’s needed to help healing begin. Nobody wants to feel alone when someone they cared about has died. ‘Janie Like No Other’ not only homages this young woman, I’d argue it brings a much needed atmosphere of love and community to her death.
‘Because Love Lasts Forever’ is a much softer endeavor, one that highlights Weintraub’s more emotional vocal delivery in a more somber soundscape. The track is hauntingly beautiful, especially when the stringed instrumentation elegantly slides in and out of the track. Weintraub accomplishes something that’s hard to do: write a seven minute singer songwriter track in the independent community and keep it consistently compelling throughout its entirety.
The intense ‘Light’ is a wonderful finale to this three song collection. It’s a driving performance, one that gives the lead guitarist room to breathe in a fantastic fashion. Weintraub’s vocal style, especially on ‘Light,’ is actually fairly reminiscent of Michael Stipe, if I were to draw a parallel to another vocalist. Weintraub and these seven other performers owe it to themselves to pursue further collaboration outside of this project. There’s a magical chemistry to this band, something that doesn’t come across my desk often.
Go listen to these three songs and give them a download. They’re worth having in your collection, not only as exhibitions of Weintraub and company’s prowess, but excursions through singer songwriter music done right. The genre has become an inundated cliche in the independent scene, and this music defies that entirely. One can only hope that these songs have helped Weintraub and his community heal as well. Music is, after all, the best medicine. (Besides actual medicine, I suppose.) Above all, they memorialize some young people gone far too soon. Now they’ll always live on through this music.