Standard Deviation is Danny Schmidt’s tenth studio record, and the second independent release since leaving venerable Americana roots label, Red House Records. These new songs have the same sort of lyrical complexity and poetry that has distinguished Schmidt’s earlier work, but this time they’re draped in the lush ear-candy production of strings and steel guitars and ethereal girl harmonies.
Standard Deviation tackles some difficult themes and subjects, from gentrification to infertility, radical honesty to quantum entanglement. But more than any other, the themes of fatherhood and family weave through the record, as Schmidt recently became a first time father, sparking powerful meditations on human connectedness, and on the transformation of identity into the role of Papa. And on the blinding love released by that process.
“Standard Deviation is a joy. Danny Schmidt is a songwriter’s songwriter. Each line, each chorus, each bridge, each breath – each is carefully placed without compromise. So many great lines. So many great songs. Exact pieces in a wonderful puzzle. Singing like a quiet madman.” Sam Baker
“Standard Deviation is top shelf Danny Schmidt…far-ranging, wise, and life-affirmingly poetic.” Anaïs Mitchell
Named to the Chicago Tribune‘s 50 Most Significant Songwriters in the Last 50 Years, Austin, TX-based singer/songwriter Danny Schmidt has amassed a cult following for his poetic, poignant lyrics. With a craftsmanship and emotional depth drawing comparisons to Leonard Cohen and Townes Van Zandt, and with fantastical narratives reminiscent of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Salman Rushdie, Schmidt is considered a preeminent writer. Sing Out magazine proclaimed that: “Schmidt is a force of nature: a blue moon, a hundred-year flood, an avalanche of a singer-songwriter. His songs are a flood of poetry, mythology, folk wisdom, and surprise. He is perhaps the best new songwriter we’ve heard in the last 15 years.”
Performing solo almost exclusively, armed with just his voice, his acoustic guitar, and his acute commentary, Schmidt’s an authentic timeless troubadour, one man sharing his truth in the form of songs, unadorned and intimate. The understated effect can be powerful. As songwriter Jeffrey Foucault put it: “Everything about the man is gentle, except for his capacity for insight, which is crushing.”
After garnering unanimous critical praise for his self-released Parables & Primes album in 2005, Schmidt’s follow up release, Little Grey Sheep in 2007 began a streak of albums that charted at #1 on the Folk Radio Charts internationally. And on the heels of being crowned with one of the prestigious Kerrville New Folk awards in 2007, Schmidt won the notice of venerable Americana roots label, Red House Records, who began releasing his albums in 2009, alongside such notable artists as Greg Brown, Eliza Gilkyson, and Jorma Kaukonen, thus exposing his music to a broader audience.
Schmidt released three albums on Red House Records, including the critically acclaimed debut Instead The Forest Rose To Sing in 2009, the spare and intimate Man Of Many Moons in 2011, and culminating with the amorous duo album For Keeps with his partner, Carrie Elkin, in 2014. Schmidt returned to self releasing his own music in 2016 with the album Owls, a mystical collection of ethereal allegories. Standard Deviation will be Schmidt’s ninth solo record and tenth album total.
Schmidt’s relationship with the hit podcast Welcome To Night Vale began when his song This Too Shall Passwas used in one of their first episodes, and immediately struck a chord with the podcast’s audience. Schmidt has subsequently toured with the podcast for many of their live shows as the special musical guest. The song Standard Deviation was first debuted live at one of these shows, and became somewhat anthemic to the show’s highly intelligent, nerdy-in-a-great-way, outlier audience. So it’s only natural that the recording premiered on one of their episodes.
Family life for Schmidt interweaves with his musical life. His wife Carrie Elkin is herself an acclaimed singer/songwriter, and the two often tour together, sharing songs back and forth, and singing harmonies on each other’s work. In September of 2016 they celebrated the birth of their daughter, Maizy, who has become a fixture on the road with them. And if we’re being honest, she’s become the star of the show. And has also found her way into many of the songs that Schmidt has been surfacing in recent days.
Danny Schmidt · UK Tour · May 2019
Wed 1 Aylesbury Private Event
Thu 2 Bristol Private Event
Fri 3 Winchester The Hyde Tavern
Sat 4 East Hoathly, East Sussex Private Event
Mon 6 Hawick, Scottish Borders String Theory @ The Heart of Hawick
Tue 7 Edinburgh House Concert
Wed 8 Glasgow Glad Café
Thu 9 Abington, South Lanarkshire The Wee Gig, 85 Carlisle Road
Fri 10 Kirton-in-Lindsey, Lincs. Town Hall Live
Sat 11 Cambridge Studio concert, 5th Studio
Sun 12 Whitstable Whitstable Sessions @ St Mary’s Hall (Umbrella Centre)
Mon 13 High Wycombe Kingsmead House Concerts
Tue 14 London Green Note @ The Water Rats
Wed 15 Crawley The Hawth
Praise for Owls (2015)
“… Danny has gained a strong cult following for the deeply lyrical poetry of his writing, which he makes a virtue of understatement as he manages almost effortlessly to combine this with a pronounced gift for melody. Danny’s work is characterised by a beauty in the simplicity of its expression, a quietly compelling demeanour that draws the listener in immediately.” Folk Radio UK
“Danny Schmidt is one hell of a songwriter…He tells stories. He creates magic – good and bad. He goes places I did not know existed. He is a pied piper. We follow, those of us who get him, and we wonder why so many don’t. If it was drugs, he would be our dealer.” No Depression
“It’s an atmospheric collection, tough and sinewy yet rich in detail and full of imagery.” R2
“As anyone who has caught him live will confirm, Danny Schmidt is a self-contained Texan troubadour. His guitar is a six-string orchestra-cum-dance band accompanying a voice that carries vulnerability, a sense of wonder and firm determination.” Sunday Herald
“Schmidt is brilliant and original and way too good for just a cult following.” The Telegraph
“…one of America’s finest songwriters.” Texas Music Magazine
“At times OWLS is capable of inducing an out of body experience and succeeds emphatically in freeing your mind of that mundane everyday clutter. Diving deep into the lyrical opulence is probably the ultimate recommendation for understanding the work of Danny Schmidt. Deep down the riches sparkle and await your act of discovery.” Three Chords and the Truth UK