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Dan Wilson - Free Life

Dan Wilson has a rich musical history. He played with Trip Shakespeare and later Semisonic, and has produced some impressive discs such as Mike Doughty's Haughty Melodic and the controversial Dixie Chicks album Taking the Long Way (he also co-wrote the album's big hit "Not Ready To Make Nice"). On his new solo album - the self-produced Free Life - Wilson seems to have utilized all of his considerable artistic attributes.

Though pretty ballad-heavy, the disc flows nicely and holds up well to repeated listens. He has a very appealing, unaffected voice, and his themes are well thought out and universal. Of particular note is his ability, as a lyricist, to make this collection of love songs easy to understand without being trite or rote. Standouts include the first single "Cry" (featuring fellow Minnesotan Gary Louris of The Jayhawks on guitar), "Hand on My Heart", and the lovely waltz "Sugar" with Sheryl Crow on background vocals.

Wilson's first proper solo album is rewarding on many levels. He's proven that his prior work as an artist was no fluke, and I suspect that he's got much more to offer in the future.

Written by Dan Reed