Premiere: Denton’s Daniel Markham turns up the yearning

Denton multi-hyphenate artist Daniel Markham in the music video for “Standing In The Rain.” Directed by Brandon Bonnette.

Daniel Markham is known for being one of North Texas’ most prolific songwriters, but somehow, in the past few years, he found himself in his most dormant stretch between releases. Now, he’s waking up.

“I was on the road a lot by myself for so long, and then [the new album] was a kind of an awakening,” Markham said. “I just decided I wanted to write simple, big-riff rock songs.”

After a tumultuous 2021, he spent May of 2022 holed up at Chase Park Transductions in Athens, Georgia with acclaimed country-rock producer David Barbe (Drive-By Truckers, Deerhunter) and began recording his tenth LP, Just Like A Dream. Much of the album is threaded with moments of reflection during the trying times of the last few years.

“Standing In the Rain,” which KXT is excited to premiere today, is the most disparate of those moments. An ode to New Order, the song dials back for a simpler, more somber note that pangs with yearning. It’s “night time music” as its core with an entrancing bassline, electronic drums and synth that stare straight at the rearview of ‘80s neon-lit influence.

Markham wanted something that would be as equal of a companion on the road to Drive-By Truckers as it would be with ‘90s alt-rock legends like R.E.M. and Stone Temple Pilots, creating a spectrum for Just Like a Dream. The album’s lead single, titled “Big Star,” dropped last month and evokes the big, power-pop sonic genesis of much of the album’s track list. But “Standing In The Rain,” when contrasted with its predecessor, works as the other edge of the album’s spectrum.

“It’s so different from everything else on the album,” Markham said. “I can still play it with my acoustic guitar anywhere I go, and people will still like it that way, I think.”

The song was inspired by the loss of a friend, and aches with Markham’s remorse for leaving words left unsaid, as he sings “It’s been so long since I heard you sing my favorite song/how did we get so far away/I wish that I could go and tell you everything.”

“I was thinking a lot about a friend who passed away, and [the song] just came right out of me,” Markham recalls. “So it’s one of my favorite songs I’ve ever written.”

Pulling from the slick ’80s sound, the “Standing In The Rain” music video was directed by Brandon Bonnette and is a gorgeous nod to some of Markham’s favorite films of the era — psychological thrillers soaked with vivid technicolor — brought to life with red light and fog. Armed with a tape player and  his guitar, he sits locked into a contemplative driveway moment reminiscing in front of a montage of memories on film.

“I like movies like ‘Heathers’ and David Lynch films,” Markham said. “But I also just wanted it to reflect the song’s dreamy edge and softness.”

“Standing In The Rain” will be officially released on streaming platforms on Friday, March 15. You can catch it live at Markham‘s Just Like A Dream album release show at Dan’s Silverleaf in Denton on April 5.