Sometimes the deepest, most soul-nourishing musical experiences defy categorization and are just too expansive to fit comfortably in a certain bin at the local record store or under a banner on a digital page. Danen Kane is one of those artists whose music doesn’t lend itself to a simple description, but neither does the man himself.
He was a basketball playing pre-law student in college who detoured into music and found his calling in life. Faith pummeled by intellect creates insightful songs, and Kane’s lyrics are vulnerable, almost aching, yet marked by an undeniable sense of hope that pervades his first national release, Love is Waiting. Musically, his sound draws from a variety of influences from European rock, earthy jazz and America’s best singer/songwriter tradition. It all melts into a unique tapestry that sheds a new light on people’s expectations of faith-based music.
“I love to draw from multiple styles and meld them into something hopefully unique,” says Kane, “My fan base is interestingly wide. If you came to one of my shows you’d see fans ages 14 to 70, and it’s pretty evenly spread out.”
Kane grew up in a small town near Green Bay, Wisconsin and didn’t even start playing music until college. “My roommate during my sophomore year had an extra acoustic guitar, so I learned a few chords and started leading worship for Campus Crusade for Christ. I then began writing poetry and putting chords to it, did a coffee shop show once a month in my college town, and it kind of spiraled from there.”
Ironically the young man who dropped out of his speech class in high school because he was terrified to speak in front of a crowd soon found his voice as a singer and speaker. His thought-provoking songs combined with his distinctive vocal style soon earned Kane a large local following that began growing exponentially. Before he knew it, his independent recordings were generating strong regional buzz. He began touring heavily, routinely performing 150-175 dates a year, sometimes headlining and other times opening for acts like BarlowGirl, Leeland, Sara Groves, and Shawn McDonald.
“I’ve been doing music full time for about nine years,” Kane says. “After college graduation, I either had to go for it, or I had to lay it down. I really felt strongly that this was what God was calling me to do, so I went for it and just trusted Him to open the doors, and He gradually did. I’ve been incredibly blessed, and it’s gotten bigger and bigger.”
Kane’s new album is filled with vivid songs about life, faith and relationships. “I tried to write congregational worship stuff, and it just didn’t come off authentic enough,” Kane admits candidly, “but when I started writing about everyday life and relationships that I had gone through and how that affected me, that’s when my writing came alive. I wrote things that made sense to me---things from a Christian perspective and what I’ve learned.”
“I Found Love” is a song Kane began writing four years ago after a failed relationship. “I love the song, but I just couldn’t finish it, and so one day I was trying to finish this song, and I just felt like God kind of smacked me in the face and said, ‘how long are you going to let this thing that happened to you years ago define who you are? When are you going to let that go and let me love you the way you are longing to be loved?’ I start in the song by saying, how much I long for love and not to be alone and God basically said, ‘the thing that you are waiting for has been here all the time.’”
“Beautiful Mess,” the album’s first single, has a buoyant melody and showcases the warmth and conviction in Kane’s voice. “My greatest desire is to live a life that truly matters, to be obedient to Him in all things,” he says. “Yet it doesn’t take long for me to falter in that goal--either in thought, action, or both. But God loves me regardless, and this song is just my heart’s cry to be obedient so that I may truly know Him.”
“Alive” is a vibrant song of thankfulness to God for the gift of life even amid earthly challenges and trials. Musically “Inheritance” has a cool, atmospheric vibe and a potent lyric about examining what is truly valuable. “Awakening” is a compelling worship song Kane wrote in his church sanctuary during a quiet time with God.
“’Take It All’ is my favorite song on the record,” Kane says. I think it’s easy in this culture to become complacent and not to trust the Lord for a lot of things. As I was just thinking about that, I said, ‘God, everything in my life that I’m holding above you, I just want you to take all of it because I really want to live a life abandoned to you.”
“Lullaby for the Forgotten” is a poignant song that was originally written for inclusion in a play. “The scene was written
around an orphan that had been sold into the sex trade,” he says. “I tried to just think about what life must be like for her and how abandoned she must feel, how forgotten and completely detached from what love really is. Every person has felt the sting of abandonment in a relationship or by a father or mother; that’s maybe the greatest wound we could ever have.”
Kane’s appreciation for music is obvious, but it’s his passion for people that drives him. “Most artists are extremely passionate about music itself,” he says. “Music is something that I love to do. I love writing and playing, but it’s definitely not what drives me. I use music as a vehicle to do what I feel God has called me to do. It has allowed me to meet thousands of people that I would have never met, so I love music, but I love music more because it allows me a platform to share the Lord with people.”