Daniel Donato’s Cosmic Country

There are a lot of musical influences and sources that Daniel Donato has drawn on during his career and that inform Reflector (Retrace Music), the Nashville guitarist-singer-songwriter-band leader’s first all-original album. But within those Donato has carved out a unique and individualized spot for himself, one that speaks to the deep American music heritage that inspires him —and that he’s pushing towards the future with inspired, intentional vigor.

He calls it Cosmic Country, a moniker that’s both self-descriptive and a statement of purpose. It’s an organic rock band aesthetic with plenty of roadhouse twang, a showcase for Donato’s instrumental virtuosity and facility for melodically infectious songcraft. Bridging Nashville and the Great West, Kentucky and mid-60s northern California, tie-dye and plaid, it’s a world of his own, and wide world of musical adventure at that.

“I think Cosmic Country is a tale as old as time, really,” Donato explains. “It’s yin and yang in a musical form. It’s three chords and the truth, and then on the other side it’s exploration and bravery. I really went through a lot of years of grinding, and still am, to achieve this sound which is a vehicle for my personality, and the personality is a vehicle for my soul. So (Reflector) is more that than any other record I ever put out.”

Reflector’s 15 songs offer 66 minutes of ecstatic musical immersion. It’s an album in the classic sense of the word, tracks that are individually memorable but sound even better coming one after the other and make the sum greater than the total of its parts. “We’re touching on a lot with this record, which is also why there’s somany songs on it,” acknowledges Donato, whose stinging Fender Telecaster tone is the strongest glue of continuity throughout —and is positively screaming on tracks such as “Gotta Get Southbound” and “Dance in the Desert Pt. 2.” “If you’re the kind of person who wants to listen to a record and have a record be a companion with you, then Reflectoris going to vibrate in your frequency.”

Donato’s own musical frequency was tuned at a young age, while growing up in Nashville. His father “picked around a guitara small bit;” more importantly, he instilled in his son a discerning taste for quality music, filling his son’s ears with legendary music of all genres. The rock meanwhile, came from Guitar Hero; the game was crucial to broadening Donato’s vistas of listening to JImi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Stevie Ray Vaughan, et al, as well as a particular attraction to Guns N’ Roses’ “Paradise City. “Those players stuck with me and gave me my first foundation of guitar,” says Donato, whose father taught him his first chords on one of his old guitars. “I was a strange kid —still am a strange person. I really didn’t have any friends that got me, but the guitar understood me, and I had a vision for what my life could be.”.