Standard Deviation


Owls | Acoustic Demos

For Keeps









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The stunning embroidery piece used as the album cover is by a brilliant artist named Michelle Kingdom.
To learn more about Ms Kingdom's work, please

click each song title to read lyrics

1. Just Wait Til They See You

This is a straight up love song to a child. One of the most profound emotions you experience with a newborn is this sense that every day you wake up to a secret that you just can't wait to share with everyone. You get to know this new little person in such a vulnerable and pristine state, and in such a physically intimate way, that you just want the whole world to get to experience that same world-changing beauty with you.

2. Words Are Hooks

This is a song about the potency of words, their power to deliver a message and affix it permanently into our psyches. They can do a lot of permanent emotional damage if we're not careful, but they also have the power to heal deep wounds. And so, most importantly, since they are so impactful, it's essential that we be truthful with them.

3. Standard Deviation

This song is a romance set in the multi-dimensional realm of theoretical physics, string theory, quantum mechanics, and descriptive statistics.  At its most distilled, it’s just simply about how there’s someone out there for everyone, no matter how distant an outlier they may be, and no matter how esoteric their passions and obsessions.

It weaves together several other themes, as well, though.  It touches on the pushback that smart women can face when expressing their smarts in traditionally male-dominated arenas. It draws parallels between quantum entanglement and human entanglement.   And it asserts that even the most guarded and unlikely heart has some perfectly twisted key somewhere that will open up it right up.  

And it's about how sexy a smart mind can be when it's set totally and wildly free.

4. Blue-Eyed Hole In Time

This song is about the identity transformation a newborn takes you through, instantly and forever. It's a mystical experience. This new little person you've been so excited to meet for so long finally introduces herself to you, and as soon as she locks eyes with you, it's impossible to quite remember her not existing. And you can't even conceive of yourself as anything but Papa anymore. It's profound and magical.

5. Newport '65

This song is about Dylan's musical transformation in 1965 from the flag bearer of the folk movement to the stream-of-consciousness channeler of the youth culture's rising malaise. And it's about the dissonance sometimes between an artist's own creative identity and the identity that's built in the minds of his or her audience. It can be an uncomfortable tension.

6. Agents Of Change

This song is about the gentrification process. And it's about how the movements and flows of people around shifting notions of Desirability are so fundamental that it feels almost like a law of nature, like reverse entropy. And whether, in any particular moment, we are feeling like the victim of those changes or the instigator of those changes, truth is we are always both, as the process itself is immutable and inevitable. I wrote this one after our best friends couldn't afford to be our neighbors just a couple years after we bought our home.

7. Last Man Standing

I like to describe this song as a character sketch about a poor guy who's managed to crawl about halfway up the first step of the twelve step program. On the one hand, that's not very far. But on the other hand, it's really really far. It means he's at least started to look inward at himself, and started to claim some responsibility for his life's condition. I would argue that the twelve steps are logarithmic and not linear . . . and that it takes as much climbing to get up the first step as it does to get up the next eleven.

8. The Longest Way

This song was written for the documentary film Less Traveled: A Journey from Pine to Palm about an adventure down the century-old Jefferson Highway, from Winnipeg to New Orleans in a 1954 Dodge. It's about how much community exists in the spaces between the main roads and biggest highways, and how much life exists in between the busy breaths of all the huffing and puffing we do to keep pace motoring through our modern lives.

9. Bones Of Emotion

This is a song about Family set at holiday time, when are bellies are so full with love and life that they hang out a little bit beneath our jammies.

10. We Need A Better Word

This is a song about miscarriage. Through processing several miscarriages of our own with our closest friends and family, my wife and I came to understand just how common, almost ubiquitous, these misfortunes are. But we're all so uncomfortable talking about it, that it adds an additional layer of shame and isolation to an already heart wrenching feeling of failure. So I wrote this song to put an open conversation about miscarriage out into the world, hard as that feels.

I expanded on this piece in the form of an essay that means a lot to me, I hope you'll check it out.

We also made a video for the song, I hope you'll check that out, too.

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Standard Deviation was recorded at Gallop Studios just outside Atlanta, GA and was engineered and molded by the emotionally gentle and musically acute guidance of producer Will Robertson.

Will set the course and bearing for the record, and then held the crew together on the passage. It was yeomen's work . . . but the crew was amazingly talented and committed, and made the whole journey incredibly spirited and joyful. Here's the folks who lent their passions to the project . . .


Mira Stanley Costa, Cara May Gorman, and Chuck E Costa (all of the band The Sea The Sea). I feel like the background vocals set the tone and musical identity of this entire album . . . and these beautiful folks were the ones who conjured up the magic. We spent a long weekend camping out together up at their place in upstate NY, and they just sang and sang and sang all day long every day while I just grinned and grinned and grinned.

Fats Kaplin. Fats is the quintessential multi-instrumentalist. There are very few people who can play the pedal steel guitar and the fiddle and the banjo and the mandolin and the etc etc etc. But there are very very very few people who are truly masters at each and every one of them. Fats was willing to take three days with us in between his tours with John Prine, to add whatever spice and sauce each of these tunes needed to render into a whole dish.

Colin Agnew. Colin's one of the most present, tasteful, gentle, and creative percussionists and drummers I've ever worked with. He can lay down a heavy foundation when that's what the song is asking for, or he can sprinkle it with fairy bells and angel dust when the song needs to float from the ground. Colin really managed to establish the core and structure of each of these songs.

Southpaw Jones. I've known and admired Southpaw for years as one of Austin's brilliant songwriters, but this is the first time I've had the pleasure of working with him in a production setting. He played the wonderful throwback harmonica part in homage to Dylan on Newport '65. He brought the goods of the period without the baggage of the era. And was loads of fun to play with and work with.

Carrie Elkin. And of course it wouldn't feel like a proper record of mine if my wonderful wife Carrie Elkin wasn't weaving in and out of the lines organically and effortlessly with her beautiful harmonies. Makes an album feel like home for me.

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Standard Deviation Poster
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This gorgeous screen-printed fine art poster is the creation of brilliant illustrator and print artist, Dan Grissom, in Austin, TX. Each 12x16 poster is screen printed by hand on 100lb art paper. This is the latest piece in a series of prints Dan is making in conjuction with some of the favorite lyrics to Danny's songs.

"So many locks, so many doors, so many twisted keys . . .
Within the standard deviation from the mean

This song reminds us that no matter how weird we are, no matter how esoteric our passions and interests are, and no matter how extreme an outlier we are on the curve of humanity . . . there's someone out there who's been looking for exactly us. And frankly, the further out on the curve we reside, the more delighted that other person will be when they finally find us.

It's a beautiful poster for your beautifully kooky sweetie.