Daniel Schamroth – Common Knowledge

by Jack Reid

Daniel Schamroth, homegrown talent from the great city of Exeter, is a folk-influenced singer-songwriter with a damn fine ear for melody and a vocal influence not too far flung from the Gallagher brothers. Common Knowledge is the first release we’ve heard from the Exonian, barring a string of extremely promising demos.

The arrangement on this EP boasts a full band that is distinctly well mixed with Daniel’s distinctive vocals. The effect is an entirely pleasant one, as layers of shakers, guitars, and the softest of drums all combine to form an impression of a winter morning. The first track from the release, Flicker, epitomises that well; Daniel’s vocal melody is bright and rousing, with a guitar tune catchy enough to just fall short of irritating. It’s a strong opener. Heart’s Desire is a slightly grittier, country tune. There’s a really fun use of slide guitar and a far more prominent bass riff in this track. The march of the verses in this song are perhaps the highlight, with an interesting bluesy lyrical conceit being delivered in a few bars of distinctly country vocal melody.

Cold Wind Blowing has been receiving some buzz already, as a music video circulated rapidly on YouTube last year. It fits perfectly well into this release, despite having perhaps the most Gallagher-y delivery on the release. The chorus is particularly endearing because of its string accompaniment and wonder harmonies. There’s something deeply soothing in the build across that chorus, and something very cathartic as it drops back down into the picking of the verse. This track, maybe the best on the album, only suffers from some of the lyricism that comes off a little kitsch-y at times.

Always a sucker for strings, I loved the violin line weaving in and out of Angel By My Side. Something really refreshing in this song is the really distinct vocals (that perhaps come from doubling); they sound a little like something from The Shins. Of the outro tracks, A Broken Violin is strongest. It has an infectious scale to it, and I can imagine it booming out of a festival headline stage in the pouring rain at around 10pm. That sounds specific, but there the structure of rising crescendos that die out to return to the start of the blues-y build is very powerful, and demands attention. A Broken Violin, through its embracing of non-standard structure, really stands out in my mind when I come away from this release.

This EP is a skilled and mature debut, that shows off some incredibly atmospheric ballads that wouldn’t be amiss on an epic arena. It seems that we just have to wait for everybody to work that out and start selling out Mr. Schamroth’s shows.