Dan Croll’s second LP Emerging Adulthood is an on- the-nose title for an album about coming of age not only Dan himself but for his music as well. His first album, Sweet Disarray, was as good of a debut as you could expect but was, at times, very one dimensional. His vocals were constrained to the same melody on far too many songs, and a struggle to add dramatic ballads to an otherwise fun and poppy album were the downfalls on that album.
On Emerging, he seems to have grown in nearly every way; his lyrics deeper, his music more refined and his vocals nearly impeccable. The song choices on this album are deliberate and fit extremely well. Where the song “Sweet Disarray” felt slightly out of place in the context of his first album, he gets rid of ballads entirely on Emerging, focusing tightly on dancy, jazzy, funky, sultry songs that go together cohesively in the short 10 track journey.
Croll is an exceptionally talented musician, and if he recorded this album like he recorded Sweet Disarray, then he played every instrument himself. If this still holds true, then it is an incredible accomplishment to have improved as much as he did from his last album. Percussion is the highlight instrumentally; the drums are tight and nuanced throughout the album, holding tracks up when everything else might feel down. This is especially apparent on songs “January,” “Away From Today” and “Do You Have to?,” where the beats add a wonderful new dimension to songs accentuated by falsetto vocals and lighter melodies from other instruments.
Speaking of vocals, this is another aspect where Croll has found new life musically. He tones down the over-pronunciation and masterfully picks and chooses his spots to stretch his vocal muscle. “Tokyo” is the highlight of this album vocally and lyrically form. He seems to hit every spot in his vocal range in this song and his lyrics are interesting and veiled:
No I’ve never been to Tokyo
Never made my inhibitions known
Don’t look kindly on the things you do
From my enigmatic point of view
His lyrics certainly revolve around a lot of things that may trouble a 24 year old (yes, he’s only 24). From addiction, dating, feeling grounded, exploration, jealousy and doubt, his lyrics cover a wide arrange of topics pretty well. You can definitely see his point of view in these songs and he’s easily able to connect with the listener.
This album draws from a lot of different genres. Jazz and blues are represented well in percussion work, keys and guitars of “Sometimes When I’m Lonely.” Croll meshes a funky beat with some crunchy guitars and swirling keys in “Swim,” that has super awesome backing vocals from a female vocalist that I hope to identify soon. I love the song “Do You Have To?” because of how clean and analog it sounds; it’s a small club indie rock song through and through with it’s feeling of intimacy and closeness.
This is a really exciting effort from Dan Croll. Emerging Adulthood is an impressive improvement in every way from his debut LP, not quite unexpected but more than welcomed. I’ll be looking forward to seeing him live again supporting this album. He is a charismatic performer and sounds just as good live as he does in recordings.