Dan Horne’s solo debut The Motorcycle Song EP is certainly reflective of the bassist’s regular gigs. Normally on stage with Circles Around the Sun, Grateful Shred, and Jonathan Wilson, these outfits helped Horne’s incredibly cool sonic mind trip explode into the universe.
Does the idea of freedom appeal to us all right now, given our present circumstances? As time keeps weirdly slipping through this year, the producer and troubadour’s contribution to the 2020 soundtrack is a musical flashback to our collective sanity. Balanced, compositionally complex yet effortless instrumental jams like “Blackjack” evoke the freedom and rebellion of Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper’s 1969 classic Easy Rider.
Horne takes on Canned Heat’s “Poor Moon” in a looped up frenzy of cool. The classic cut’s reincarnation into the love child of Jan and Dean on doo-wop feels right. This is a masterclass in creating mood and feeling through music. Plucking out the song’s almost maniacal lyricism and time-warping it from 1969 into today’s bizarro world seems perfect.
Horne’s skill as a producer shines with each restrained mix. The instrumental “Rhythm 55” is a stunning sunset looking out over San Francisco Bay: rich, intricate, emotive, and flowing. The excellent slide guitar reaffirms music’s connection to the soul. With Horne’s cover of “The Motorcycle Song,” transcendence seems complete. Bass-driven with immaculate tonal separation, Arlo Guthrie’s folk classic seems baptized for our times in California’s dreamy Mamas and Papas holy water, saving our soul. And this new version simply rocks!
To say Dan Horne’s The Motorcycle song EP is no ordinary mind-expanding tune-fest seems understated. The quartet of original tracks and politically charged, culturally relevant performances were born in a Dan Horne fan’s paradise.–Lisa Whealy