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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic album from a troubled genius, 26 April 2003
This review is from: Fear Yourself (Audio CD)
I stumbled upon this album quite by accident in my local record store, but it hasn't been off my CD player since. Quite simply, if you love music you will treasure this album.
Research reveals Johnston has been a major figure in the American underground indie scene for many years, thanks to recommendations from the likes of Kurt Cobain, David Bowie and MTV's "Cuttin Edge". A highly creative singer-songwriter, Johnston pens songs of love lost, existential despair and hope tinged with sadness.
His battle with manic depression naturally infiltrates his music, but there's a depth to his music which defies this simple categorisation. Vocally, he's no Nick Drake, but like so many great singer-songwriters before him (Bob Dylan being the obvious example) you forgive him this; for the quality of melody is so high, and the feeling he puts into his songs is so intense.
"Now" kicks off the album in style, sounding for the most part like a cheap home taping. It probably is: Johnston started his career by handing out home-made tapes of his music on the street to prospective fans.
"Love Enchanted" is a moving ballad of theatrical proportions, Daniel's clunky piano playing echoing the lyrics perfectly:
"Would you follow me anywhere? / Are you entertained by deep despair? / [I'll] have you on the edge of your chair / wondering what love's sorrow got you there"
"Fish" is the standout track here. Slightly reminiscent of the Barenaked Ladies at their best, it's cheery singalong chorus masks the rather dark lyrics.
Love is a strong and constant theme: "Power of Love", "Forever Your Love" and "Love Not Dead" being key examples. The latter is another fast paced, guitar driven track; think Mull Historical Society, or the Lightning Seeds (before they went mediocre):
"And when i saw her standing there / everything was all right /
I took a journey in my mind / and as I saw her beauty she was so kind / that was a good sign"
Unfortunately by the end of the album, Daniel's vocals are wildly off-key. "Living it for the moment" could be a fantastic song, but the vocals are so out of tune it's hard to tell. It's a shame the vocal track wasn't re-recorded, because it sours the close of the album with a rather amateur feel.
Don't let that put you off. This is a superb album, with more great melodies packed into each song than most artists fit on one album. It's highly imaginative, unusual and creative, and it'll leave you wanting more of this fascinating musician.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Different to his other albums - in a good way., 29 Jan 2008
This review is from: Fear Yourself (Audio CD)
I have read reviews on the internet berating this album for being "too clean, too cliche, too simple," but I really do not see where this is coming from. Possibly, as this was the first of Daniel's albums I had heard (I came from the Sparklehouse production angle) it is colouring my enjoyment - but I don't feel this is the case. If you have heard Daniel's work before you know what to expect - emotional delivery, 'innocent' lyrics and his trademark voice, but I see this as being a massive step up. I have since got Yip Jump Music and Hi, How are You and can safely say this album is better. The other older songs were entirely different animals, spotty recordings and spotty songs. The Lo-Fi feeling of the tapes helps the cause of the other albums, but where songs like "I Had Lost My Mind" and "Chord Organ Blues" are excellent, alien entities, half the albums are full of songs like "I Picture Myself With A Guitar." People will probably say I don't "understand" these songs. But let's face it, they are pretty poor. This album is a step into the light. Everything is in tune and in time, Daniel's hypnotic voice is accompnied by lush strings and mellotron - I'm sure this is what Daniel's songs sound like in his head. When he sings "Love will save you now..." you can feel he means it.
I've warbled on here, but you cant describe this album or any of his other ones. All I can say is how much I love this album, and can't wait for more albums from him.
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5.0 out of 5 stars fear yourself - DON'T FEAR dan johnston !!!!, 18 May 2011
This review is from: Fear Yourself (Audio CD)
Very strong lp from 2003 - Dan sounding much clearer than his earlier tape albums - but he is still as brilliant as ever.
There is not a bad song anywhere & prob has my fave daniel johnston cover!!!

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5.0 out of 5 stars A mix of the dreamy and the upbeat, 25 May 2007
C. Harman (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fear Yourself (Audio CD)
This great album starts off with an upbeat Johnston on guitar singing, in lo-fi, the first part of 'Now' - it is an infectiously rousing song - the kind of song one could imagine being written in a fit of passion or excitement, and one of my favourites of all Daniel's many great songs. The lo-fi evokes reminiscences of his early albums created at home on a domestic tape recorder. The whole album combines these more upbeat songs with dreamy, contemplative ones. The arrangements are imaginatively done, using a whole variety of electronic and acoustic instruments, and the level of inspiratiuon on the part of Johnston is up there with the best of his work.
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Fear Yourself
Fear Yourself by Daniel Johnston (Audio CD - 2003)
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