Danen Kane Love Is Waiting as reviewed in Phantom TollboothPerhaps nothing shines as brightly as when an artist hits their stride.

Love Is Waiting
Artist: Danen Kane
Label: Danen Kane Music LLC
Release Date: May 20, 2011
Duration: 12 tracks, 48:54

Perhaps nothing shines as brightly as when an artist hits their stride. Nothing shines brighter among these as when a local artist ‘pops’. This is the case with Danen Kane, a Wisconsin-based musician releasing his fifth album. Although he tested the waters with 6 of the album’s songs on a recent EP, the full test of this accomplishment was met with this release.

Kane explained his drive and determination for this release with the following, “For me, music is full time, with late night recording sessions and day long planning and producing, with writing in between. I have been blessed with being able to follow this dream for 8 years; there is nothing I’d rather do.”

As a sophomore in college, he learned a few chords for worship songs and grew from there. His roommate had an extra guitar and encouraged Kane to continue. His first album came a year after picking up a guitar for the first time with Aeneas, a band he helped form. “The majority of chords I played I didn’t know, I just listened to them and figured them out, I couldn’t tell you if it was a G minor 7 diminished. I just liked it.” A good friend knowing theory would chart out his songs to help other musicians understand his chord structures.

Kane went solo after this first offering with Unworthy, Take Glory From Our Praise, Transparent, and She. Each release showing dramatic improvement with influences ranging from soft rock to jazz. “’‘A Letter to the Church’ from the album She is built with jazz chords, but I didn’t know they were jazz chords. I just liked the chords I played.”

“For 4 years I toured 9 months out of the year. This was a long burn, being disconnected from family and friends. Fortunately, I had another family to lean on. This is the great thing about a church family; you have a community you are involved in wherever you may travel.” Kane continued, “I don’t regret that time, it truly transformed me. I learned things about myself and my relationship with God that I could not have learned in any different context. To be on the road and have no other human to cry on their shoulder if things were rough, I literally had to go to God with everything. God was my companion, my helper, my sustainer and friend, my everything, It allowed me to press into Him in a way that I think I literally could not have if I did not go through that experience.”

Bigger productions have come with his later efforts in She and his last EP, Awakening. But this latest offering, Love Is Waiting, is by far his biggest production to date. Beginning with one of the best mix engineers in the country in Mills Logan who has multiple Grammies and has mixed records for artists Taylor Swift, Toby Keith, Rascal Flatts, Montgomery Gentry, Leann Rimes, and many more. Kane was fortunate to pick up a bass player in Jimmie Lee Sloas as one of the world’s top session players. He was been the GMA bass player of the year 4 out of the last 5 years and has toured with people like Carrie Underwood, Garth Brooks, Phil Keaggy, Keith Urban and many more. “Over time, I have been lucky to have great local talent play with me. Michael Morgan is mainstay; he has played on every one of my records and has been a good friend from college on. He is an insanely good musician. Mike has co-produced some of my albums, he’s played guitar, drums, piano, percussion, sang background, everything. He is an integral part of what I do. Mike Howard of the band The City Alive plays lead guitar adding backing vocals. An upcoming talent, Jeanna Bosacki, adds great backing vocals. “My friend Jeanna is an amazing talent. We’re helping her get started on her debut project now.”

“I would think it is the best collection of songs I have written so far. The best recording, the best production, the best everything – from start to finish this is my best. There is a pop sensitivity; I definitely have had mass market appeal in mind when I was writing this record. Not in a way that is traditionally mass market like dumbing down lyrics. This record will definitely have a chance to appeal to the masses. This record is what I’ve been waiting for the last 8 years.” But this is not his swan song, “Unless God calls me to something else, I’m putting my hand to the plow and will be doing this for quite a while.”

Kane is natural and intentional is his every effort. Being independent for 8 years, he has remained his own musician. “I stay away from a label influencing my lyrics, writing, style, image, and what I say in interviews. If I feel strongly about theological principle, I need the freedom to follow what God is telling me to do.” Kane continued, describing how an artist can use what labels provide without signing on to long term contracts, “Over the years record labels have become many businesses under the same blanket. As an artist, some of those businesses you need, some you don’t. Many artists chase after an imaginary dream of signing and then making it. They give up much. When tied contractually to a label, you find the label doesn’t pay for everything. Whether you’re signed or not, the artist still pays for everything. You just pay for it on the back end with a label. It is like a glorified bank loan. I’ve signed to specific divisions that will be helpful for this effort only. I’m hiring out and working with them instead of being under them contractually. In this way I maintain creative control, licensing, and creative freedom. There is a downside. If independent you must do all of the work a label would do for you. I do all of my booking, routing of tours, promotion, producing and most of the engineering.

This effort has paid off with Love Is Waiting. The opener, “I Found Love” shows a new, percussive vocal styling for Kane as he sings of one’s personal relationship being broken while Christ’s love waits for all of us. One of six songs from the EP Awakening follows with “Inheritance” whose story tells of what God gives to each of us and how we change when he comes into our lives, highlighted by the refrain ‘Boy on a hill, never be the same again’. “Beautiful Mess” displays great play between solid percussion and terrific bass play laying the foundation for a fine integration of vocals matching backing music. “Lullaby For The Forgotten” is the first of the EP Awakenings remixes to include strings, adding a wider appeal to the song.

Among a number of new songs with pop melody and solid lyrics a number of remixed efforts again shine. Among these are "Awakening" with the story of God coming into our lives and breaking down sin while awakening us to His love, “Home” with added strings underlying the feeling of being welcomed home, and “Alive”, a Jimmy Needham-like vocal rendering highlighting Kane’s great vocal qualities. Finally, “You Came For Me” completes a great grouping of songs with powerful lyrics telling of the truthful realities of our lives and God’s saving grace:

Can you feel it in the air; a reverent awe runs through my bones
 As I tremble and I stare; I've never seen a site like this
All of the stars they start to cry, the rivers run from all their tears
All of creation starts to smile when it thinks of what we're about to see

You, You came for me
Lord You came for me and everyone's singing
You, You came for me
And all Your majesty is shown
You've come to bring me home

No more daughters with absent fathers; no more boys are bruised
No more hunger and devastation; all the soldiers drop their guns
Never another broken heart; I'll never be abandoned again
All of the pain and stress departs as all creation stands to see

You've come to bring me home
Sweep me away

Glory, show Your glory; and give me mercy to drink it all
Glory, show Your glory; and give me mercy to drink it all
Glory, de-veil me slowly; and give me mercy to stand in awe

What stays with the listener is not only great lyrics and solid musicianship, but the foundational base of acoustic guitar leading the overall effort’s melody. This coupled with Kane’s vocal qualities similar to jazz great Michael Franks have great emotional display. Here is an honest, forthright artist pouring out a message of hope and justice through faith.

To be truthful in life and performance is crucial. “I resonate with that. Ministry is a lot about presenting reality. When people can tell if you’re genuine and not just an iconic figure of holiness, that you’re not perfect, that you’re a real person with real struggles, striving for holiness and striving to worship and follow after a very real God things get a lot more real. Every word is more impactful when it is coming from a broken, honest person. My main focus is spreading the gospel, leading worship, bringing people to a better understanding of who God is and what he wants us to do. Unless the soul is fed and unless the gospel is an essential part of what you’re doing, you are just prolonging a problem. You might be providing a need, but unless there is a foundation of what you’re doing that is obvious, there is not a long term effect. They say that if you feed someone a fish you feed them for a day, but if you teach them how to fish you feed them for a lifetime.”

“I would much rather create a record that affected people’s relationship with the Lord forever than to put out a record that is critically acclaimed. When I pass away, when I die it won’t matter that I sold a million records or received critical acclaim for my music. It will matter that I used my gift to get the message of Jesus Christ out there. The reason I do music and the reason I do music as I do is to have as positive an effect on people as I can.

In a period when Christian praise and worship music is waning and cross-over music is hitting its stride, Kane has hit his stride in an artful, positive collection of songs focused toward the masses but finding its place securely in praise and worship. While today’s Christian cross-over is an effort toward discipleship with the intention of reaching out to those in need, Kane has succeeded in doing just that while maintaining a strong base in contemporary praise and worship.


Danen Kane will be appearing at the Cup ‘O Joy in Green Bay, Wisconsin on Saturday, October 15, 2011, 2 Shows, 6:30 & 8:45pm.