DROPOUT DAN- Forever. Instead

Dropout Dan is Dan O’Dell. And he’s not even that anymore. His new project is called Heartwork. But I wanted to review this because he left it at a recent (very good) gig he played in Cambridge after I refused to pay for one. And he did deserve my money, because he wrote all of the beautiful songs he performed in a week. I had just regrettably spent all of my money on cider. Naturally.


Anyway, ‘Forever. Instead’, though released over a year ago, gives a strong indication of what this 23-year-old does really well to this very day. Listening to the songwriting and arrangements, it is always mindblowing for someone as old as me that someone as young as him can create with such a depth. Having been likened to Frank Turner, and popularly and lazily labelled ‘indie folk’, what this EP really sounds like in my opinion is the emo acoustic rock of the early noughties. Dashboard Confessional was but one of the most notable story-tellers of this time and it is this brand of slightly angry love notes that Dropout Dan pinches from here. But better obviously.

Recorded by Matty Moon and featuring contributions from members of other Cambs rockers, The Perfect Crime, ‘Oh, little red’ is starkly honest, setting the tone for the rest of the tracks’ theme of nostalgia and a faint hint of optimism. My favourite is ‘The sound of faking’ for its textured and passionate subtlety. What one man and a guitar can achieve is as big as he dares to dream. And it sounds like Dropout Dan, Heartwork or whatever he wants to call himself dreams big. Be part of it. Oh, and save a fiver for the CD at the end of the next gig. Hic.

Anna C


From Exposed Magazine