Self Titled EP - Danny Rivas - Review

Self Titled EP - Danny Rivas - Review

The beauty of running an Indie Music podcast that reviews submissions each week is every 20 or 30 songs, you find something truly special. Recently nominated for 3 IAAS awards, Danny Rivas has been one of the unique artists to capture our attention with his single ‘VHS Prom, June 1971’, a flawlessly written and constructed ballad that quietly demands your attention with its sheer excellence in songwriting and unique sound. Feeling a little disappointed that a song this perfectly crafted came away empty handed in our inaugural award show, I had to dig deeper - and the first step was to spin the whole EP and find out who Danny Rivas is as an artist. 

The 5 song self-titled EP starts with On The Coast, featuring Hannah LeGrand. I was curious, already impressed with what I had already heard from Danny Rivas, as to why the introduction-record into the sound of Danny Rivas would start with a track featuring another vocalist, however a lot of credit has to be given to the subtlety of Hannah LeGrand’s performance in this, which only serves to enhance the sound and support Rivas’ singing. I started listening to the EP curious as to how Danny Rivas would define his own sound through this collection of songs, as the second track on the EP was hard to categorise. Ultimately, the first song promises a unique sound with smooth laid-back vocals and a blend of mid-twentieth century inspired tunes. 

When asked about influences, ‘Rivas listed a varied pallet of artists from the sixties and seventies, and several songs on this EP certainly pay homage to artists like the Beach Boys and Beatles. As a record, I felt reminiscent of evenings spent listening to the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack, with almost every song feeling it would absolutely belong on the star-studded line-up, with the exception of VHS Prom, June 1971 - a decisively unique record. 


If you want a better look at our first reaction to Danny Rivas, I would recommend checking out this episode of the podcast:
Episode 18 (here for Danny Rivas’ appearance). The second track of the EP, 'VHS Prom, June 1971', is one of the best songs I’ve ever heard in my life. Its beauty lies in the simplicity of the music, the harmony every part plays in creating the soundscape, and Rivas’ ability to tell a compelling story that makes you feel such a strong connection with the two people in the narrative. You fall in love with the portrayal of two very real young and relatable lovers, as well as Rivas' storytelling.

The next two songs absolutely continue the theme of homage to older artists, while creating a unique sound. The chord progression of “Joni” shows a maturity and confidence in composition, equally matched by the brilliantly simple lyricism, telling a compelling narrative throughout the verses. The chorus feels Beatles-esque, mirrored by the instrumental breakdown, however, I’d stress that the influence doesn’t overstep the boundary, and the unique, casual lead vocals ensure everything feels fresh. 


For a debut EP, Danny Rivas has created an incredibly unique and confident record. Vocals leaning towards singer-songwriters like Jack Johnson, but the overall production sounding closer to Sixties and Seventies pop, he’s absolutely nailed the main goal any new artist should set of creating their own sound and space in the infinitely congested indie music scene. My biggest disappointment when listening was track 6, where my streaming service ran out of Danny Rivas and played some other nonsense.

If I were to be hyper critical, I’d give two points for feedback. The EP’s weakness is in VHS Prom, June 1971’s strength. Track two is one of the most beautiful and well created songs I’ve ever heard. It’s difficult, as the song sits as an outlier against the other vintage-styled, more upbeat tracks, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but worth noting that there’s a substantial gap between this song and its accompanying tracks. The only other minor point would be the final track ‘Falling’ takes a step towards a more artistic approach to song-making. Personally, this always feels like an 'album move' to create a greater overall theme. The song definitely still earns its place on the EP, and makes me excited for what the future holds for the talented Songwriter who teases at the possibility of a 2024 debut album. I feel incredibly happy to have discovered Danny Rivas so early in his journey, as he is destined to impress with such an effortlessly unique artistic style. 

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