Singer/Songwriter Dan Zalles Recalibration Is Just What The World Needs: Fifteen Eclectic Songs to Get You Through The Day
Dan Zalles had an inkling of what his future path was going to look like as far back as middle school. During a woodshop class, his teacher gave him an F grade for constructing a salt shaker without following instructions. Zalles (pronounced ZAL-is) was later surprised to see that the same teacher had displayed the salt shaker as one of the best in the class. He learned a valuable lesson that day about following his instincts…
While it wouldn’t be fair to say that a contrarian streak runs through Zalles’ music, he’s most certainly forged his own path. A Bay-Area music veteran who’s played punk, jazz fusion, garage, folk and rock, Zalles has a way of distilling decades’ worth of music into concise, relatable songs. His new album Recalibration combines the outsider individuality of DIY figures like R. Stevie Moore and Bob Pollard with the populist songwriting instincts of, say, Billy Joel, Springsteen and Sting.
Zalles also chafes at the “singer/songwriter” tag. Indeed, on top of his singing and guitar playing, we hear his creative signature on trumpet, drums, bass and keys. And you can see him wear his quirks on full display in the charmingly lo-fi video for “I’m Sorry for Saying I’m Sorry,” the well-mannered anthem the world didn’t know it needed. In fact, Recalibration is a master class in “looking for meaning in ordinary things” — a line from the deep cut “Lumination High,” which showcases Zalles’ knack for giving his songs a redolent shine of pleasantness when the mood calls for it.
Over the course of the album’s 15 songs, Zalles (with help from his son Ian on piano) flows freely between uptempo rock, surf, Americana, moody/atmospheric pop inspired by MTV’s ‘80s heyday, and even Mariachi folk. He also nails ordinary experience with unparalleled wit and grace. On the title track, for example, Zalles positively nails it when he asks “Can your neighbors count the ways / that get you through the day?” From start to finish, Recalibration offers exactly what its title describes — a slice-of-life dose of upliftment dressed up in a hearty variety of styles. It couldn’t come at a better time.
Now based in Utah’s Wasatch Mountains, Zalles has swerved between his concurrent careers as a musician and educator. Aside from his solo work, he has played and/or still plays in the bands British Wire Gauge (whose post-punk/proto-new wave gem “Product City” was featured in the fifth season of TNT’s Animal Kingdom), Wayward Monks, The Outer Half, and Slide Dogs. He also gigs with his son regularly.
2. I’m Sorry for Saying I’m Sorry
3. Up in Neffs Canyon
6. Quantize Me
7. Five Four Guide
8. Lumination High
12. Take It
14. Meander With Me
Dan Zalles online: