Midwesterner Dan Hazlett ambles out on The Corner of My Eye with a gently undulating cadence and an ever-so-comfy vocal on “The Alchemy of Fish,” beginning an album-long connection with every classic 1970s-era singer-songwriter type.
His knowing tale of passion’s confusion in “What the Heart Knows” recalls Steve Forbert, while “Empty Room” has a loping confidentiality that sounds like nothing so much as the Band’s Rick Danko. “Alien” settles into a sweet and approachable chorus out of Stephen Bishop. “Nobody’s Fool” could have found a home on any James Taylor album.
From there, Hazlett continues spinning these finely woven moments, each of them as heartfelt as they are amiable. “Built to Last” is a delightful reverie, made complete with the addition of a pleading steel guitar. “Secret Tattoo” is impossibly love filled, as warm and full of promise as a summer evening. Same with “The Other Side of Dawn,” powered along by a romantic trumpet and a cooing lyric.
Hazlett’s title track is the rare exception, a dark and smoky rumination. More typical of this lovely throwback to a simpler time of music making is the closing track on The Corner of My Eye, as Hazlett dives ever deeper into the calming waters of “Where the Blue Meets the Blue.”
Hazlett’s work here seems as familiar as it is cozy, as reminiscent of another time as it is timeless and connective. After the turbulent end of the 1960s and the Vietnam War sounds like these were a balm for a nation weary from conflict. In many ways, they are again now.” – Nick De Riso – Something Else Reviews
“Dan Hazlett is a singer-songwriter, guitar player from the state of Michigan. With his style of writing, Hazlett’s easy listening music would fit alongside people like Christopher Cross, Jim Croce and James Taylor. Hazlett is a seasoned musician who has several releases in his discography. The newest one, The Corner of My Eye, was released in 2012.
The Corner of My Eye from Dan Hazlett begins with the track “Alchemy of Fish”. The folk-rock song has a simple feel to the music and sort of brings back the feeling of the writing of John Denver. The lyrics to the song about living off the earth also have the same John Denver-like quality.
The next track on the album is “Empty Room”. With this track, you can tell that Dan Hazlett is the type of writer that can tell a good tale in the lyrics of his songs. “Empty Room” is a song about two people on different paths who end up needing each other. The lyrics of the song are written using free verse, making the listener pay attention more to the story than to the music of the track.
On the song “Alien,” the listener gets to experience the true talent of Dan Hazlett as a guitarist. The first third of the song features the guitar as Hazlett plays some very beautiful and moving instrumental jazz. When Hazlett’s voice does appear on the track, the song takes on a different kind of feeling than the first part of the track. The lyrics of the song have a bit of pain in them as Hazlett sings a very touching song about a boy who is dealing with cancer and the kids he calls friends who decide to stand by the boy as he goes through Chemotherapy. The song is sung from the perspective of the kids on the baseball team who are standing by the boy with cancer. The moving song once again shows Hazlett to be a very good storyteller. The music, lyrics and guitar playing from Hazlett on this track make “Alien” one of the strongest tracks on the release.
The song “Postcard from Paris” is yet another example of Hazlett’s ability to create a story in song. The track features music that is part folk and part jazz. The jazz part of the melody goes well with the visuals of the subject in the song reading the postcard he received from someone he knows who went to France.
With the song “The Other Side of Dawn,” Dan Hazlett creates one of the fullest sounding tracks on the release The Corner of My Eye. The addition of background vocals by a choir of voices and the inclusion of the trumpet and piano on the track really add body to the track. The song contains a lot of emotion in the lyrics to the song as the lyrics tell of two people who are going their separate ways.
The Corner of My Eye from Dan Hazlett comes to an end with the track “Where the Blue Meets the Blue”. The song features a folk-like approach to the music and features a fiddle that adds to the beauty of the music. Like the songs that came before it, the lyrics to “Where the Blue Meets the Blue” have a very strong affect on mind as you can almost see the pictures that Hazlett describes in the song.
The album The Corner of My Eye from Dan Hazlett feels very much like a collection of short stories as Hazlett writes very straightforward lyrics that tell it like it is. The music on the album is performed with style and lends itself well to the lyrics written by Hazlett. You only come across an artist like Hazlett once in a while and his album The Corner of My Eye is a joy to listen to.” – Matheson Kamin – Matheson’s Entertainment Blog
“Dan Hazlett is a good songwriter with a sound that captures a nice hunk of Americana. He never really fails in terms of delivering good songs. The trouble with this album is that sometimes it’s a bit monolithic. The thing is, there are pieces that bring a decent amount of variety to the table. Rearranging the songs somewhat would really help. Still, taking this track by track it works quite well. All in all, this is a good album that could have been improved upon. Still, as classy and tasty as this is, that would just be icing on the cake.
Track by Track Review
Alchemy of Fish
A bouncy little melody opens this tune up. It’s a playful and fun bit that grows out from there into a roots rock jam with a lot of blues in the mix. The mix of instruments and backing vocals here really work very well.
What the Heart Knows
This feels more like 1970s soft rock in a lot of ways. It’s got a great blend of sounds, too, but is less bluesy. It’s got a catchy hook and some great tones. There is a soulful, almost gospel feeling to the cut later.
Here we get more of a folk meets singer songwriter sound. It’s a classic sound and has some great moments. While in some ways, it’s not as impressive as some of the rest here, it has a real charm to it. The harmonica is a nice touch and there is really a bit of a Grateful Dead vibe to this in some ways, along with a Paul Simon element. It does seem to go on a bit too long, though.
The Corner of My Eye
There is almost a mysterious soft rock sound that opens the title track. As it continues there is almost a jazz sound to the mix at points. The guitar has a real bluesy edge. The vocals on this cut mar it a bit, at times feeling a little rough around the edges. Still, the overall arrangement is strong enough to overcome that kind of problem.
More bouncy folk music is the order of the day here. It’s catchy and one of the stronger cuts on the disc, despite having one of the least adventurous arrangements. It’s just very effective.
Energetic and fun, this is a classic tune. It’s got a lot of old school jazz in the mix (brought home by the horn solo), but it also has a bit of a Grateful Dead vibe, too.
Built to Last
As this one opens up there is definitely a bit of a country music feeling to it. It gets a bit more in the folk rock genre as it continues, but there is definitely still some country throughout the tune. The slide guitar is the main purveyor of that sound, though.
Postcard from Paris
More pure folk, this is good, but suffers a bit from a little bit of “sameness” that’s starting to creep into the album. Still, some of the hooks and guitar playing stand up pretty well. There is a little bit of Paris café music at the end of the piece. That’s an appropriate ending. It’s also a nice bit of variety.
Here we get another tune that works pretty well. It’s got a lot of energy, but is again starting to suffer from the monolithic nature here. Honestly, there are some songs here that bring more variety to the table than this one and the last couple. I think that rearranging the tunes a bit might have given a better angle to the disc. Still, I haven’t tried programming it differently.
Basic Hard to Tell
Mellow and rather intricate, this is more folk-like music. While there is still some of that “samey” problem, this works better. Part of that is because of the male female duet, but also just because of the strength of the song. It feels more emotional and immediate than some of the other music here. The bit of horn later in the tune is a nice touch, too.
The Other Side of Dawn
Now, this is more like it. The whole superstructure isn’t changed that much, but there’s more of a rock sound to it. It has more energy and “oomph” than a lot of the other music here. Jazz elements are clearly built into the arrangement, too. This is one of the strongest tunes on the whole disc.
Where the Blue Meets the Blue
Slow and balladic, the closing cut is one of the best on the album. It’s quite dramatic and evocative. Normally, I’m not a fan of closing an album with such a mellow shot, somehow it really works well here. This is one of my favorite tunes on the whole set.” – G. W. Hill – Music Street Journal
“Okay, here we go. To begin to make an attempt at putting Dan Hazlett’s musical body of work in a box would be an act of musical treason. His work in studio whether it be behind the boards, in the vocal booth, or playing guitar, he truly has the ear and brain for this music thing.
A skillful and refined performer in his own right, Dan has entertained and uplifted his fans with his unique, expressive voice and elegantly written song structure. On his latest release entitled The Corner of My Eye, Dan charms music lovers with songs of everyday life and joy—those feel good tunes when you’re cruising around on a beautiful day.
The opening track on the album, “Alchemy of Fish,” is a light and cheerful tale with peaceful lyrics about a sunny day that form into a greater lesson to be learned, “all things must change.”
Dan offers a little bit of something for everyone—a total Elvis Costello vibe on the song “Empty Room.” Lyrically the song tells various stories of different folks and what they are dealing with on an ordinary day. Hazlett’s very soft and unique voice is really brought to the listener’s attention on “The Other Side of Dawn.” An upbeat tempo with interwoven horns and a steady array of piano licks compliment his voice.
This album marks Hazlett’s ninth studio release, a truly remarkable accomplishment and a testament to this extremely talented and well-rounded individual’s accomplishments.”
“With his quirky, heart warming and humours stage presence, Michigan acoustic, folk singer songwriter Dan Hazlett and his newest collection of songs The Corner of My Eye, is even more alluring than his easily recognisable, signature red high-top sneakers.
Likened to dreamy talent of James Taylor and Elvis Costello, Dan has been injecting his wholehearted vibes into soulful folk beats and smooth jazz sounds for over 30 years, captivating listeners both throughout the US with an impressive nine album collection, not to mention a bundle of nominations for song writing contests, building international recognition in the process. And with this, his ninth album, The Corner of My Eye, Dan is sure to add a few newbies to his fan base.
The delightfully light hearted folk funk sounds of Alchemy of Fish are just the perfect way to ease yourself into the beginnings of each brand new day, and beginning with a sea-side wisp of freshness, What The Heart Knows will capture your pretty little soul and reconnect you with the natural intuition that we always find doubt in.
Empty Room is a contemporary borderline jazz arrangement of deliciously delivered vocals and whimsically peculiar lyrics that I simply can’t get enough of, and The Other Side Of Dawn is a unique and softly compositioned five minutes of a cruisy, semi-bluesy of living in the essence of the moment.
The raw eccentricity that exudes from just these four songs, is so intriguingly enticing and I’m utterly smitten by how Dan completely owns his unique style in such a way that I’ve never seen before.
The Corner of My Eye may be in the peripherals for Dan Hazlett, but I’m using the entirety of my vision and my other senses too to absorb all that this album has to offer.”
by Siobhan Chapman Indiemunity