Dan Arborise, Around In Circles

Amelia Raitt

By Amelia Raitt

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

As a boy, Dan Arborise was classically trained on both piano and guitar and was briefly a part of a Mediaeval Quartet, a Pink Floyd cover band and what he mysteriously terms “a tap-dancing marathonicon.” Couple all that with a longer tenure in the well-liked-for-a-minute pop-punk group Playground, you can't blame Arborise for simply wanting to get back to basics on his debut solo album.

On Around in Circles, he does just that. With most tracks, it's simply him and his acoustic, plucking out complex lines with the greatest of ease. He's obviously inspired by Nick Drake and, as such, his songs are exercises in restraint — featuring his tender voice above all else — but the moments that make Around in Circles such a charmer are when Arborise builds tension, as on the excellent “Everything That You've Been Taught to Love Is a Lie.” Similarly stunning is “Take Heart in Your Hope,” which adds an almost imperceptible keyboard part from which Arborise builds an inspirational narrative amply explained by the titular phrase.