Album Review: Dan Israel – Social Distance Anxiety Disorder

Dan Israel

photo by Steven Cohen; photo courtesy of Dan Israel

Album Review of Dan Israel: Social Distance Anxiety Disorder

Minnesota’s favorite son, singer-songwriter Dan Israel, kept busy during spring quarantine by unveiling a new album, Social Distance Anxiety Disorder, released just 8 months after his 2019 release, Social Media Anxiety Disorder, which was reviewed here by Blog contributor James Morris.

Dan Israel - Social Distance Anxiety Disorder album cover

image courtesy of Dan Israel

In the past I’ve noted that Dan is a singer-songwriter with a folk-meets-rock delivery, while his wide variety of influences is evident to varying degrees on different albums. Social Distance Anxiety Disorder showcases many of Dan’s influences, and most of the disc would be best described as a singer-songwriter rock ‘n roll album. The opening track, “Wit’s End,” is markedly more pop than folk, with a peppy, word-thick delivery blending harmony and hooks. “Bewildered,” though, cranks things up a bit, as it’s more of a strumming ’70s rock-era protest song that complains densely in the verses before opening things up more in the choruses. And “Bustin’ Out” has a hint of Beatles influence, with a crunchy guitar opening, a rich music bed, and several opportunities to sing along with the “ahhhhh” in the background.

Dan Israel

photo by Steven Cohen; photo courtesy of Dan Israel

“Don’t Think They’ll Say” comes across as Dylan meets a travelin’ road song. It flows neatly into the smooth “Trying for a Long Time,” a strummer with a calming, mellow vibe.

Some nifty plucking opens “Guess It’s Time/Everyone” before the song’s chunky, steady-paced beat kicks in. Seemingly a simple melody at first, additional instruments and rhythms join, and the song evolves into an attention-grabber.

“Little Bit of Your Love” follows energetically, as thumping drums and a past-midpoint guitar solo drive home a rock ‘n roll vibe to deliver a tune you might hear on some Tom Petty or John Mellencamp records, complete with an off-balance, Petty-esque rock vocal vibe. Dan cranks it up a little more, even, on “Something for the Pain,” a bluesy, gritty, and kind of psychedelic rock number equally befitting a concert stage and a seedy dive bar.

“Vision in My Dreams” settles things down a little, closing the disc with a thoughtful vocal line and a broad, open, expansive sound.

The breadth of this disc causes it to be one of my favorite Dan Israel albums, as I can play it easily on repeat due to the variety of tempos, moods, and influences showcased throughout. Dan is one of the handful of great, regionally-renowned American troubadours – a singer-songwriter whose music is peppered with influences that enable him to appeal to multiple fan bases. It’s always a pleasure to review one of his well-crafted, engaging releases, like Social Distance Anxiety Disorder.

Dan Israel

photo courtesy of Dan Israel

Looking Ahead

Dan isn’t performing live at the moment, but when he does, you’ll find his gigs on the “Shows” page of his website or the “Events” tab of his Facebook page. He does seem to regularly livestream on the “Videos” tab of his Facebook page; you can find some old livestreams on there now.

Album Review: Dan Israel – Social Media Anxiety Disorder

Dan Israel

photo by Steven Cohen; photo courtesy of Dan Israel

by Eric Harabadian, Contributing Blogger

Album Review of Dan Israel: Social Media Anxiety Disorder

Believe it or not, Social Media Anxiety Disorder is the 15th release for this Minneapolis-based singer-songwriter. Heck, there are many major label artists that can’t claim that accomplishment! So, what’s the prodigious Minnesota troubadour been up to? Well, hot on the heels of his 2018 record You’re Free, Dan Israel climbs out of his songwriting comfort zone a little bit in favor of some clever production manipulation and playful arranging. He worked with two different producers in Jon Herchert and Steve Price, resulting in a cross-pollination of inventive ideas.

Dan Israel - Social Media Anxiety Disorder album cover

image courtesy of Dan Israel

Israel kicks things off with the horn-driven pop/rock of “Be My Girl.” It’s a strong single, with terrific airplay potential. The uptempo spark of the rhythms are complemented by Israel’s emotive Elvis Costello-like twang and a good time feel.

“125” shifts gears entirely placing the listener in a pseudo-psychedelic state. The dreamy flowing lead vocals and fuzzed out lead guitar are stellar. “Just Can’t Take It” features little quirky production ear candy bolstered by a catchy chorus and lush bridge. “Still I’m Lost” returns to that semi-psychedelic spacey kind of vibe. It’s a nice blend of thoughtful experimentation and melodic pop. It sounds like something Bowie would do.

“Might As Well Be Me” features a country-folk element. It is the closest to pure Americana you’ll probably find here. There is some tasty acoustic guitar soloing, and Israel’s vocals kind of remind me of something by John Sebastian.

Dan Israel - Social Media Anxiety Disorder album back cover

back cover; image courtesy of Dan Israel

“Another Day” is more catchy upbeat pop that this artist is known for. The slide guitar breaks here are very nice as well.

“Just Can’t Take It (Revisited)” is kind of a vocal reprise montage. Through musical snippets from the original track and spoken word, Israel slyly comments on the impinging stresses of modern society and the expectations of those involved in social media. It’s a mind-bender, for sure.

“Tired” prominently features organ and has an overall gloss similar to The Wallflowers and Crowded House. “Alright” follows and ushers in a kind of rockabilly swing. Its upbeat and bouncy groove is infectious. “Here for Today” has a simple and pragmatic message toward life of “trying to take a little and leave a little behind.” The dense guitar work here really rocks and provides a wall of sound.

Dan Israel

photo by Steven Cohen; photo courtesy of Dan Israel

The concluding two tracks “Out of My Hands” and “Out of My Hands” (Reprise)” sort of combines the spirit of the Rolling Stones album Exile on Main Street with a gospel touch. It’s a fitting way to wrap up the festivities and sends a poignant and pensive message of acceptance and soldiering on.

They say music is a healer and Dan Israel brings to light songs that can address serious topics of personal challenges and societal anxiety and present them in an entertaining and uplifting fashion.

Looking Ahead

Per the “Shows” tab on Dan’s website, he has a packed schedule of performances ahead. Currently lots of gigs in and around Minneapolis, some shows in northern Minnesota, and a January 31/February 1 house concert in Wilmington, North Carolina. So keep an eye on his website for performances in your area.

[Publisher’s Note: Geoff Wilbur’s Music Blog has reviewed each of Dan’s last three releases. I reviewed Dan’s album Dan. James Morris reviewed You’re Free. And now Eric Harabadian has reviewed Social Media Anxiety Disorder. – GW]

Album Review: Dan Israel – You’re Free

Dan Israel

photo by Steven Cohen; photo courtesy of Dan Israel

by James Morris, Contributing Blogger

Album Review of Dan Israel: You’re Free

You’re Free is the new album from Dan Israel, released May 2018.

Dan is a talented singer songwriter with 14 albums behind him; You’re Free is number 14. On this album he sings and plays guitars and is joined by a host of great musicians and singers all bringing an array of musical strengths to his interesting and foot tapping songs.

The songs are mostly about the personal, political and cultural crises that he finds in the world today. In Dan’s own words, “Few of the songs offer explicitly political messages, but many are colored by frustration, anger, and concern over the political situation, environmental degradation, and the alienation that often accompanies our reliance on social media.”

Dan Israel - You're Free

image courtesy of Dan Israel

These inspirations have led Dan to create 11 highly accomplished songs, and whilst you may think the dire state of the world these days would lead to a maudlin bunch of tunes, you would be wrong. There is a jaunty juxtaposition to the songs. Serious matters couched in upbeat musical moods. He certainly has a knack for tuneful, contemplative rock.

The production is also rich and creates a very listenable montage of musical layers. A good mix of jangly guitars and keyboards with tasteful additions of the occasional violin, steel guitar, trumpet, piano and percussion. The sonics match the high quality of the songs. I can’t not draw comparison to Tom Petty as Dan’s voice has similar qualities, and the Americana rock vibe is familiar albeit still fresh to listen to. He has brought his own style to what is a well-trodden musical path, and the music is comfortable but contemporary. Lyrically, too, I am glad to say that he doesn’t fall into cliche, and the words are well though-out and engaging.

His musical influences shine through but don’t drown him out. There are flashes of Dylan and Petty and also, interestingly, I found myself hearing bluesy Stones vibes, especially on the acoustic slide guitar groove “Porch Storm” that ends the album. A similar vibe comes through on “Long Gone Dream” and “Soul Will Be Found,” which have a bluesy retro feel, kind of Canned Heat and Beggars Banquet-period Stones.

Dan Israel, Minneapolis 2018

photo by Steven Cohen; photo courtesy of Dan Israel

The album starts a little downbeat with “Gets You Through It” but is sent hurtling on with track 2, “You’re Free.” I always question whether it’s useful to start making comparisons to other artists. Not sure it’s very fair on the reviewee, but on the flip side it is handy for readers to get a feel for whether they will like the albums based on their own musical tastes. So I’m going with the comparison route, and with that in mind I would say that the title track is very Traveling Wilburys, and that can only be a good thing.

There are nice twists on the next song, “Back To You,” with the introduction of violin and a female backing vocal alongside the main voice. Also some lovely Springsteen-esque organ playing and a bright guitar solo.

“Make This Life Mine” and “Stay on the Run” are softer and bring a beautiful acoustic shade to the album, whilst “Feeling Better” and “If I Didn’t Have You” are back in the Tom Petty groove.

It’s always brilliant to discover an album of music that you dig. Quite out of the blue, I am very lucky to have been introduced to Dan Israel and look forward to continuing listens to this excellent album.

The album is available on LP, CD, and for download. You can find out more on Dan’s website,

Looking Ahead

He is a busy performer, and if you want to keep up to date with his live shows, you should keep an eye on the website, but in the meantime he can be found in June playing the following dates:

Thursday, June 14: Dan plays solo in downtown Minneapolis at 333 South 7th Street, a free show outside on the lawn of Accenture Tower, (in close proximity to Hennepin County Government Center, Capella Tower and other downtown buildings) from noon to 1 pm.

Friday, June 15: Dan participates in the Wooldridge Brothers Starts at Dusk album release show at Eagles 34 in Minneapolis, at 8 pm, along with White Sweater, Lolo’s Ghost, and more.

Saturday, June 16: Dan plays solo at the Stone Arch Bridge Festival in Minneapolis, 3:15 pm on the City Pages stage under the Central Ave bridge; earlier in the day, Dan plays a show at 11 am at a family farm, for the Friends & Family Day event at Tangletown Gardens, in Plato, Minnesota.

Friday, June 22: Dan plays solo at Flat Earth Brewing in St. Paul, 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm.

Thursday, June 28: Dan opens (solo acoustic) for Peter Himmelman at the Dakota Jazz Club in downtown Minneapolis; the club website lists showtime of 7:00 pm.

Friday, June 29: Dan plays solo at the Trempealeau Hotel in Trempealeau, Wisconsin, 8 pm to 11 pm.

Saturday, June 30: Dan plays solo at Chankaska Winery in Kasota, MN, 6:30 to 9:30 pm.

[Publisher’s Note: Of course, I also reviewed Dan’s last album, Dan, in January 2016. If you’re interested in reading that, too, here’s the link. -GW]

Album Review: Dan Israel – Dan

Dan Israel – Dan

The Backstory

Dan is Dan Israel‘s 13th album of originals. He has won awards, written and recorded songs, shared the stage with big name acts, and crafted a musical career that has spanned a couple decades. I first connected with Dan when I was publishing Geoff Wilbur’s Renegade Newsletter in the ’90s/early ’00s. Of course, I took a dozen-year hiatus from writing about music. When I returned, who was one of the first people to reach out to me? Dan Israel, of course, who had taken no such hiatus; he had been continuing to churn out top-shelf new music while I was away.

Album Review of Dan Israel: Dan

Dan Israel - Dan

image courtesy of Dan Israel

My first instinct when describing a folk singer with a raspy voice is to invoke Bob Dylan, though this album leans toward the Americana end of folk, and if I had to offer you a vocal comparison to Dan Israel, I’d say Tom Petty’s raspy voice is actually more apt. And while some tracks lean significantly folk or a bit more Americana, there are also some serious electric rock guitar riffs on Dan. Dan explores several different elements of his musical repertoire, in fact, producing a cohesive disc with enough variety to sustain frequent listens.

Album-opener “Winter is Coming” feeds my initial instinct, though, as Dan’s vocals fall between Dylan and Croce on this particular track. With judicious use of female accompaniment on this track, it provides Dan with an upbeat, toe-tapping start.

“Be With Me” cranks the energy up a notch, with a melody and vocal growl especially reminiscent of Petty. If I had to single out a track with the greatest mainstream hit potential, “Be With Me” would be it.

Another notable track is “Can’t Believe It,” which draws the listener in with light distorted guitar and an initial emphatic “I…” before blending Israel’s vocal style with an almost “Lyin’ Eyes”/Eagles-ish melody. To engaging effect, I might add.

Dan will have you singing “ahh-ahhh” along with “Lonely Too,” a toe-tapper of a mid-tempo crooner that deftly mixes mildly energetic verses and traveling instrumental bridges with that lower-key-but-hooky chorus.

“Try and Let You Know,” meanwhile, provides a melancholy interlude; here Dan’s vocal expressiveness convincingly depicts the pain in the lyrics, as the song plods slowly, though at exactly the ideal pace for the subject matter.

Also, for a nice change of pace, Dan tosses in the occasional rockin’ country guitar lick (and slightly more frequent slide guitar) on mid-paced “Winning at Solitaire,” giving it a soft rockabilly/country dance hall flavor unique among this collection.

If you’re a folk aficionado, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this album. Dan Israel’s an experienced, talented individual with an inspired new release; the man always delivers. And from the energy of his recordings, you get a sense his shows are probably fun events, as well.

Dan’s Upcoming Gigs

Since I suspect Dan’s shows are well worth seeing, let’s take a look at his upcoming calendar. Listed along the lefthand side of Dan’s website, it looks like he has a few gigs already scheduled in the next couple months in and around the Twin Cities: Tonight, Friday, Jan. 22nd at Public Kitchen and Bar in St. Paul, MN; Friday, Jan. 29 at LTD Brewing in Hopkins, MN; a to-be-announced “mystery gig” on Saturday, Feb. 6th; Friday, Feb. 12th at the Tavern Lounge in Northfield, MN; Friday, Feb. 26 at Harriet Brewing in Minneapolis; and Saturday, March 19 at the Chankaska Winery in Kasota, MN. Of course, check his website for times, links, and additional dates.