Back in the late 90s you couldn't go anywhere without hearing Dan Wilson's perfect indie tones singing 'nobody knows it, but you've got a secret smile...'
Twenty years on and the hits from their second album: Closing Time, Singing in my Sleep and their highest UK entry Secret Smile, are still on the playlists of many radio stations. Some of the album's stronger songs like Made To Last and Gone to the Movies demonstrate their ambition to combine the musical simplicity of Simon & Garfunkel but also the rockier element of stadium acts like U2. This influence can easily be heard in bands like Coldplay throughout the next decade. Listening back, there are of course some tracks are just fillers to get to the good stuff. Dan Wilson's songwriting abilities may feel slightly nascent, but Wilson obviously has the ear for a lyric and a hook. The reissue also boasts some superb B sides too.
Although the band never achieved the success of this album again, and haven't put out any studio releases since 2001, Wilson however, has continued his songwriting journey. Now a Grammy award winner he helped pen three songs for Adele's 21 including the mega-hit Someone Like You, co-wrote with Carole King (on Semisonic's last album) and wrote several tracks on the award-winning Dixie Chicks album, Taking the Long Way. A glance over his songwriting credentials of recent years is like looking at a Who's Who of modern music: Pink, Jason Mraz, Paloma Faith. John Legend, Lukas Graham and Taylor Swift. If there's anything to celebrate from the 20th-anniversary release, it's that the album's been the platform for an honest songwriter from the old tradition. One who understands human emotions and melody rather than commercialism and electronic programming, and more importantly, a writer who knows how to pen songs that have serious longevity.
Groupie Rating 4/5