After more than 20 years of entertaining audiences from Vermont to California, Seattle-based singer-songwriter Dan Keusal offers his first CD, 'All Along.' The CD's compositions feature thoughtful lyrics that build bridges from everyday concerns to life's deeper levels. The music is subtly acoustic, ranging in style from the flowing, alternate-tuning, fingerstyle guitar of 'Healing Heart' to the rhythmic, jazzy title cut. The full range of Keusal's influences can be heard on this album, from his early love of James Taylor and Dan Fogelberg, to his emulation of jazz guitar greats like Charlie Byrd and Joe Pass (who once gave Keusal an impromptu guitar lesson during intermission a a concert!), to the textured steel-string instrumentals of Eric Tingstad and Alex De Grassi. A lifelong student of acoustic, modern-folk style guitar, Keusal also studied jazz for a year and a half at the Griggs School of Music in Norfolk, Virginia. On this CD, Keusal is backed by a stellar group of Seattle-based musicians, including Ken Calandra, Stephen Kayser, Mark Iler, Larry Murante, and Walter White. Scroll down for 1) reviews in the media 2) notes and lyrics for each song 3) reviews from listeners! If you'd like to write a review of 'All Along,' scroll all the way down to the bottom of this page! * * * * * From Richard Middleton's Review of 'All Along,' in 'Victory Review--Acoustic Music Review Magazine': 'Keusal is known for his thoughtful, contemporary folk songs, smooth fingerpicking, and gentle vocals, and all are showcased nicely on this intimate recording, which he co-produced with Janis Carper. The sound is warm and inviting, especially when he's joined by pals such as Ken Calandra, Mark Iler, and Larry Murante on vocal harmonies. 'Healing Heart' features some particularly nice three-part vocal arranging, as does 'The Only Way Out.' The latter provides some of the album's songwriting highlights, with a well-crafted chorus that encourages us to find the courage to face our fears: 'The only way out is in/the only way back is through.' The graceful simplicity of the melody and guitar arrangement here works beautifully. The title track features a bright, up-tempo folk-pop arrangment with jazz-influenced chord changes, some nice lead guitar work by Calandra and Stephen Kayser, and Walter White's solid bass. It also features Keusal's strongest vocal performance on the CD, where he relaxes and sings with greater command and a natural sense of phrasing. A fine debut from a talented and warm-hearted local artist.' * * * * * Healing Heart: I wrote 'Healing Heart' in 1993 as part of the work for my master's degree in counseling. Instead of a 'thesis,' we were asked to do an 'Integration Project,' which had to demonstrate in some right-brain (i.e. creative, non-scholarly) way what we'd learned about or integrated in two years of graduate school. I wrote 'Healing Heart' to characterize counseling and life as a journey, a journey in which both the counselor and the client learn from each other. The faculty and my classmates loved the song. Since then, I've been asked to play 'Healing Heart' for weddings, workshops, and many other contexts. I think a good song exceeds the conscious intentions of it's composer, taking on a life of it's own and evoking things for listeners that the composer hadn't considered. For guitar players, 'Healing Heart' is played by putting the guitar in 'Open D' tuning (DADF#AD), then placing a capo on the first fret (so the song sounds in the key of Eb). Ken Calandra and Mark Iler had to twist my arm to let them try some harmonies on this tune; I'd always felt it was a solo piece. Listen to the CD (or the sound clip below), hear what they came up with, and you'll understand why I can no longer imagine this song without their harmonies. HEALING HEART Music & Lyrics © 2001 Dan Keusal (BMI) On a journey beneath the guide Of an ever-changing sky I have paused to wonder Inside? Outside? For the grist grinds the millstone as well The changer and the changed And the writer is born from the word Singer when the song is heard I hear My song So near Can there be a healing heart In this heart of mine? Brought together here with you Gathering all the broken parts Giving each their time Treasures here I never knew You are more than a mirror to me In the alchemy of soul Past the boundaries of either/or I can open spirit's door And find there Right now Right here Can there be a healing heart In this heart of mine? Brought together here with you Gathering all the broken parts Giving each their time Treasures here I never knew For all that is gold does not glitter Not all who wander are lost The old that is strong does not wither Deep roots are not reached by the frost* Can there be a healing heart In this heart of mine? Brought together here with you Gathering all the healing parts Giving each their time Treasures here I never knew (* lyrics to the bridge are from a poem in J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings) * * * * * All Along: 'All Along.' I wrote 'All Along' in March of 1985, while I was studying jazz guitar at the Griggs School of Music in Norfolk, Virginia. Back then I wanted to be the next Charlie Byrd or Joe Pass. 'All Along' doesn't put me anywhere near that company, but the chord changes echo my love of jazz more than any of my other compositions. Lyrically, it reflects on some of my favorite themes--that 'we're all part of a story,' that uncertainty is a part of any good story, and that while community is an essential part of being human, the spark of soul can ultimately be found deep inside our own hearts rather than 'out there' somewhere. For guitar players, 'All Along' is in standard tuning, with no capo, in the key of E (although the key changes often, and I'm playing chords in positions up and down the neck). On the recording, my friends really brought this song to life--the lively guitar leads of Stephen Kayser & Ken Calandra, the soaring vocal harmonies of Larry Murante, and solid, swinging bass of Walter White all bring out the joy that is at the heart of this tune. ALL ALONG Music & Lyrics © Dan Keusal 2001 (BMI) Yellow sun and breezy blue sky Seem to fit the mood today And though I'm far from feeling carefree I know he's around Lately life seems so overwhelming It's almost more than I can bear There's questions I don't have answers for I need more time But when I let go of my worry And begin to believe there's something more I still do not have all the answers But I begin to hear the chord You see we're all part of a story It's unfolding all around us everywhere Billions of people on a journey We can't see to where But enter in the master storyteller As she gently unfolds every theme And as we learn to trust we realize Life is not the fragment it can seem I'm not saying it's easy Or that everything will always be so clear When you feel that there's no meaning Just hang in there 'Cause we have got to keep on reaching Though when it comes to living there The assurances are harder come by Oh, that's why we need Other folks to share the journey To walk beside us in the darkness and the dawn We might find that all the answers Were hidden deep inside us all along. * * * * * The Only Way Out: 'The Only Way Out.' This song, very simply, is about going into and through the hard places in life, and coming out the other side with a deeper wisdom. Written in the fall of 1991, it has become a favorite of those attending my performances. For guitar players, 'The Only Way Out' is played in standard tuning, in the key of D. Harmonies by Ken Calandra and Stephen Kayser, and a subtly beautiful second guitar part by Ken fill out the arrangement on the CD. THE ONLY WAY OUT Music & Lyrics © 2001 Dan Keusal (BMI) She sang with passion and she moved so free I longed to know her, and to have her know me But all I'm knowing is an empty space A lingering lonely that I would erase But the only way out is in The only way back is through The only way to move is to be where you are Stay in the feeling it will not do you harm It will lead you into your fear Beyond what you now can see Into the fire Of your desire Only then will it set you free I am more inclined to turn away To bury the feeling When to me it says 'I must take you where you would not go Into the empty, and there I will show That the only way out is in The only way back is through The only way to move is to be where you are Stay in the feeling it will not do you harm It will lead you into your fear Beyond what you now can see Into the fire Of your desire Only then will it set you free Only then will it set you free * * * * * Somewhere Between: 'Somewhere Between.' The oldest of all the songs on my CD, 'Somewhere Between' was written in December of 1983 to reflect the differences between my experience of relationship and the messages I was hearing about relationship from the pop culture around me. Romance is one of life's sweetest pleasures, but relationships take hard work too. The lyrics say the rest. For guitar players, 'Somewhere Between' is played in standard tuning, capo on the first fret, playing chords in the key of D (i.e. sounding in the key of Eb). To keep the intimate, introspective feel of this song, I added to the basic guitar and vocal tracks on the CD only a single harmony line and a few bars of simple lead guitar (much of which is done with 'harmonics,' which provide the light, 'chime' sounds at the beginning and end of the song). SOMEWHERE BETWEEN Music & Lyrics © 2001 Dan Keusal (BMI) Love in my world is not like the love songs You hear on the radio Somewhere between euphoria and heartbreak A real man and woman try to grow Drawn by the things that are dear Pricked by the things that divide Each being fully ourselves Without leaving us compromised Started by romance, and drawn on by wonder By sharing or fear or by need Fed by a friendship embracing the time spent The roots of love spring from the seed Not just a glow that you feel Love's a commitment to try Facing a world that is real And sharing a joy you can't hide The love that we've shared has come through it's own cycle We're back beyond where we began A little less naïve, and wiser for the wear Not sure if it's part of the plan So we continue to live out our days Trying to watch for the signs Free to go on or delay Or even to say our goodbyes Love in my world is not like all the love songs You hear on the radio Somewhere between euphoria and heartbreak A real man and woman try to grow Drawn by the things that are dear And now working through things that divide Each being fully ourselves And still sharing a joy we can't hide.