POP MUSIC REVIEW : Seals’ Country Music a Tad Too Easygoing
“Everything in moderation” may have made sense to ancient philosophers, but it’s not much of a credo for a country singer, at least where the art of performance is concerned.
Dan Seals’ problem is that he sings country music with moderation. Seals’ music is a judicious, commercially successful blend of honky-tonk traditionalism, mild country-rock and pop slickness. His singing is clear and melodious, but not too insistent. His repertoire, a fairly even mix of originals and borrowed tunes, can range into adventurous, topical territory, but Seals always returns to reassuringly standard themes and situations.
Overall, Seals and his four-man band scored a moderate success in their early show Monday at the Crazy Horse Steak House in Santa Ana. There were a few solidly rocking moments that, if not exactly close to the edge, at least strayed far enough from the middle of the road to get heads bobbing and feet tapping. And Seals, at his best, did manage to break through and make feelings ring true and immediate on such highlights as “Everything That Glitters (Is Not Gold)” and “Big Wheels in the Moonlight.”
The problem was that Seals was willing to settle for half-measures instead of going all-out through the 75-minute show. His unassuming manner worked fine between songs, when he proved to be an amiable and gently humorous host. But Seals’ easygoing singing style and some stock, slick, synth-happy country-pop arrangements made it hard to care much about what his more routine songs had to say, no matter how catchy they might be.
Judging from his better songs, Seals has the ability to bring some insight and imagination to country music. But judging from his performance Monday night, he’d rather play it safe and do a moderately pleasing show than take the chances that could make for a memorable one.