Having been a DA fan for a year now (it was a year last week), having at least listened to all of their catalogue (excluding the self-titled debut), and experienced the shades of their work amplified by/contrasted with the work of the Swirling Eddies, Terry Scott Taylor's solo/production work, and the Lost Dogs (it was a really expensive year), I think I can whittle down the list of DA songs to a (slightly) smaller list of personal favourites.
Certainly, storied cuts like Hollow Man and The Double appear high on the list, as well as the epic and soaring Dig Here Said The Angel, the infectious Darn Floor - Big Bite, the stunning When Worlds Collide, and the haunting Pictures Of The Gone World. (And, you know, pretty much everything else they've ever recorded.)
But I think this one may be my favourite Daniel Amos song of all time. (At least until their next album.)
I suppose this album came at the right time of my life. It was just starting to sink in just how drastically my life was about to change. The depression that had been lying dormant in my soul for two years saw its chance to get its hands round my neck again. In times like this, I need two things: humour, and to brood. Vox Humana provided both. Songs like (It's The Eighties, So Where's Our) Rocket Packs, Home Permanent, and Dance Stop made me smile, if only at their ability to turn a phrase, while songs like William Blake, When Worlds Collide and Sanctuary were soothing, poetic, and deep, with a touch of melancholy to keep them grounded.
Sanctuary in particular has made an indelible impact on my life. Sanctuary is the only song to which I have choreographed a dance, yet every time I hear it I get this intense desire to choreograph it again. It is that captivating. Sanctuary is the song that takes me back to that still, open summer night in Alberta when I think I really heard this song for the first time -- the night that the first choreographic puzzle piece fell into place (developpé kick, step side and back attitude turn). It was another solo drive home from town as the indigo sky stretched out above me and the poplar tree stands faded back into shadows, as the summer night dew fell on the grass and the last sounds of the frogs and crickets echoed through the ravine near our house. I remember imagining what it would be like to dance this beneath the velvet sky with the moist grass rustling under my feet. That's still what I think of when I hear this song.
Artist: Daniel Amos
Album: Vox Humana
Label: Refuge Records
iTunes here; YouTube here.
Buy the album from DA's website here. (You'll have to scroll a bit to find it -- look for the yellow album cover. I've purchased through the site several times now and the service has always been great.)
Sit back. Close your eyes. Let this swirl around you, sink into your mind. The final minute, when they finally release up into the sky all the brooding tension that's been building for the previous five minutes, is perhaps one of the most beautiful passages of music ever recorded.
Should the stars get in your eyes tonight
Should you come into the promised land
From where you came
And if your greatest fears are realised