Acoustic Sounds

Dhani Harrison




Dhani Harrison "Innerstanding"

Label: Hot Records / BMG

Produced By: Dhani Harrison

Engineered By: Luke Oldfield, Paul Hicks, and Dhani Harrison

Mixed By: Dhani Harrison & Paul Hicks

Mastered By: Randy Merrill

By: Evan Toth

June 7th, 2024



Dhani Harrison's "Innerstanding" Gets a Vinyl Release

The Beatle Offspring Balances His Own Voice With His Uncanny Resemblance to Dad

Let’s get it out of the way: Dhani  Harrison sounds a lot like his father George, except that he doesn’t sound like him at all. That’s a very "Beatley" way to begin the conversation, which lives within Dhani Harrison’s musicianship: the musical roots of his father are everywhere to be found, however Dhani has his own voice and musical vision.

Though Dhani has a new album and project coming, his last solo release - Innerstanding (Hot Records/BMG) - released in November 2023 was more recently released on vinyl February of 2024, including on a two LP set in neon yellow reviewed here. Blur’s guitarist Graham Coxon features on several of the album’s tracks, even playing sax on one of them. Liela Moss of The Duke Spirit and Australian singer Mereki also make guest appearances.

Even the album’s title has a slightly Beatley feel to it - innerstanding versus understanding - reminding a listener of such Beatley Beatleisms as “A Hard Day's Night,” “Eight Days a Week,” etc. (reread that last paragraph in your head using your best Liverpudlian accent).

Before one even gets to the music within the grooves, it’s useful to think about the album’s captivating cover photographed by Josh Giroux showing a shadowy version of Dhani walking into a cave, dramatically silhouetted by the brightness outside. The image plays into the album title. A beautiful booklet included in the double disc set features Dhani with walking stick located within several different organic, natural, rainy day locations. The images may reminds listeners that he’s a man on a journey, and while that exploration is his, it’s partially a continuation of the adventure his father began long ago; this is epic stuff.

man sitting in a wooded area

The album's ample bass, particularly on the first track, “Dangerous Lies”, provides a good test of your latest subwoofer purchase. The opener also makes clear that while there might be a few nods to dad‘s cleverness and the Harrison family’s musical lineage, this recording is something new and fresh. Loops, drum machines and sound effects support Dhani’s disembodied voice that’s been treated to sound like something out of a horror movie. The effect, though impressive, obscures much of the song's lyrical content. To know what's being said follow the words on the handy included booklet.

If the album’s first track made you pause to double check who's singing, the second song – “New Religion” - one featuring Graham Coxon - will confirm it's Dhani. Harrison‘s vocal likeness to his father's is immediately clear. It's a very comforting sound for this listener, though in a musical style his dad never explored.

However, it serves as a reminder that so much of George Harrison‘s output – especially during the Beatles days – was quite left of center from what the other boys were generating. George’s forays into eastern music was clearly unique compared to what the others offered on some of the Beatles biggest sellers. Songs like “Old Brown Shoe", "Savoy Truffle,” and “Only a Northern Song” had a dissonant edge that made George's contributions to the Fab Four all the more interesting. A song like “New Religion” here calls up that Harrison habit.

The album explores a wealth of interesting sonic territory. There are bombastic, sometimes difficult moments, but there are also pastoral strings and a deft use of reverb and echo. These effects make Innerstanding feel wide and almost interplanetary. Their application is most successful when they don't get in the way of the many other small details contained within each track. “La Serena” has an idyllic feel linked to a strangely alien vocal effect that again makes difficult appreciating the tune’s lyrical content, but it's an attention grabber that signals you're listening to something new from an artist not content to rehash old styles and musical tropes. One can really feel Dhani resisting the urge to simply create straightforward pop songs.

“Damn That Frequency” begins as straightforward electronic pop but midway through Harrison reroutes it, unexpectedly changing the arrangement by inserting strings with impressive skill that amplifies listener interest rather than sowing confusion.

Female vocalists Mereki Beach, Liela Moss and Camila Grey balance out Harrison’s vision along the way, providing welcome relief from the records often brooding weight. One of the most successful co-singer songs is “The Dancing Tree,” in which Harrison wants the lyrics clearly stated so gives Beach's vocals equal weight in the mix. "Ghost Garden" also benefits from female vocal infusion.

Lyrically, the album seethes with distrust and a bleak outlook on our planet’s future. Dhani sings on "Dangerous Lies", “too late to wise up, these are our days now. I hope you’ve done the work.” While the album never becomes outrightly political, Harrison expresses frustration with the circumstances in which we find ourselves in, in the year 2024. He sings, “Reds and blues/Pretending they’re different when they are all in cahoots/ and it’s just one crooked system.” He rails against those in power on “Damn That Frequency” stating, “We must be the pawns of overlords.”

While George Harrison’s lyrics express a balance of positivity and sardonic resignation, Dhani’s darkness is a little...well...darker. He does, however, feature some beautifully poetic passages on “La Sirena"; he delivers a paean to good defeating bad on “Right Side of History;” and a truly re-incarnative ode to the never ending flow of spirit and life in, “I.C.U.” where he offers, “Love is true, the river flows at its own speed.”

Sonically, some of the electronic drums occasionally felt a little shallow and sterile, which led me to wonder how these songs might have fared with the inclusion of a more traditional, acoustic drum kit, though “Damn That Frequency” is one where the programming and acoustic drums sound fused together, creating a genuinely interesting amalgamation. Dhani plays a majority of the instruments. He’s credited with vocals, guitar, keys, drums, programming, bass & additional strings. He also co-mixed with Paul Hicks at FPSHOT recording studios (Friar Park Studio Henley-on-Thames), which was George’s Friar Park estate studio designed by Eddie Veale. Randy Merrill at Sterling Sound mastered.

After two cleanings, the records still had a fair amount of surface noise, which obviously was more of an issue during the softer songs, but – surprisingly – could be heard with some authority during the album’s noisier passages as well. Some of the album’s electronic drums also feature a kind of a pop before the kick drum sound. While this is an inherent part of that instrument's sound profile it had me wondering if these were pops and clicks from the vinyl or in the music. Unfortunately, between those noises and the real pops and clicks, I was chasing my tail a bit rather than enjoying the music. Repeated spins seemed to tame some of the surface noise.

On an Internet site George Harrison is claimed to have said, “My son looks more like George Harrison than I do.” One could arguethat in some ways his son also sounds as much like his famous dad. Though Dhani Harrison has a voice that’s all his own, fans of the Beatles and of George Harrison will likely become a little bittersweet hearing those moments when Dhani reminds them of “the quiet Beatle” though when he does it's not an overt emulation of his father's accomplishments. With that in mind, the echoes and reflections of his dad become that much more poignant. Considering George’s beliefs in reincarnation, it’s hard not to hear how the Harrison lineage continues here (reread that last sentence in your head using your best Liverpudlian accent).

Music Specifications

Catalog No: Hot 420

Pressing Plant: GZ Media

Speed/RPM: 33 1/3

Size: 12"

Channels: Stereo

Presentation: Multi LP


  • 2024-06-08 10:58:02 PM

    Anton wrote:

    Just wanted to add a thanks for this review!

    • 2024-06-09 06:27:52 PM

      Evan Toth wrote:

      You are very welcome!

  • 2024-06-13 03:22:48 PM

    Al in New York wrote:

    What a treat your music reviews are, Mikey, especially when they're classic rock related or adjacent. I wonder if TA readers get that you do professional grade writing on this stuff, which would've been publishable in the old RS and VV?

    • 2024-06-19 12:44:17 PM

      Evan Toth wrote:

      Glad you enjoyed this one, AlinNY!