The Dreaming Street – The Dreaming Street – Album Review
If there’s one thing I certainly keep my eye out for when doing reviews…it’s what I grew up with and where I originally came from. That task in itself, is not limited to any kind of genre and is completely automated…ingrained within me…I look for names and album-credits I recognize from when I was still just a kid, but being shown what music was all about by my father the musician. At eight years old I got my first ghetto blaster and began pushing play on all kinds of talented bands and artists I had absolutely no idea about…many of them I wouldn’t connect with right away or understand just how truly amazing they were as musicians or players, writers or performers until I was much, much older. I bring this up…because undoubtedly, I would have grown up in a household that would have had many of the players from The Dreaming Street’s deep lineup of talent playing on our stereo – there are players in this band that have played in bands like Tears For Fears, Genesis, Oingo Boingo, Little Richard and Cast In Bronze. Recognize for a moment here…that these bands that are listed aren’t just ‘bands’ writing more ‘songs’ but some of the most progressive talent to line the stages and studios from about the late 50’s forward…the demands on the musicianship alone have been incredible and groundbreaking throughout the duration of their entire careers…these are musician’s musicians people…dig it.
All that being said…based on what I’d seen in the credits…I felt like the music of The Dreaming Street actually came out pretty close to how I imagined it would sound. There are multiple contributors to the record beyond the six-pieces of the band with special guests as well as a horn & orchestra section…believe me when I say, there’s a lot to listen to…and it’s a damn satisfying listen at that.
Because right around the corner, when you press play…you’ll get the bright-burst of horns and immaculately tuned drums immediately pulling you onto the side of The Dreaming Street…believe me! What a beginning! The funk! The rhythm! The keyboard solo and wild drum-fills! The inimitable enthusiasm from both the vocals and the horn-section! And even though it’s laced more subtly into the mix here – you can’t ignore the incredible groove that the bass has locked into on “Jellybean” – this is a wild beginning that instantly takes hold of the attention and brings an immediate smile to the face. Right at the breakdown just past three-minutes I closed my eyes and began to imagine The Dreaming Street playing this live…flawlessly as they have here on the record…it’s easy to picture – you can hear that these guys bring their A-game everywhere they go. Musicianship is on the ballot today.
“It Didn’t Have To Be Like This” starts to showcase a bit more of the Pop/Soul tendencies that The Dreaming Street will introduce into their sound and onto the record. It’s well-played once again…you can certainly tell that this band isn’t likely going to let us down anytime soon from what we’ve heard on this self-titled debut so far. It might be a BIT on the old-school side here on “It Didn’t Have To Be Like This” to perhaps thrive in our modern-day…but there are PLENTY of people out there that still dig this sound like it just began yesterday and still want something NEW to listen to. Well guess what people – this track…this band really…is for you. There’s such respect for songwriting here that it’s completely something you can audibly hear…and if you’re familiar with your music-history, you’ll hear the fantastic blend of ideas, sounds, styles and CARE that make-up the core of “It Didn’t Have To Be Like This.” Great musicianship on display as we’d expect and a highlight solo from the piano on this cut in amongst solid additions from the guitars and horns…a lot of energy in this tune and the way they perform it.
Vocals take the spotlight on “Galilee” for me…or at least until around the 1:30 mark when they’re relieved of duty for a moment for thirty-seconds of an absolutely BRILLIANT breakdown… Toss-up there between which of these elements I really loved more throughout this song…I think they’ve put in a truly highlight performance in both the writing and playing of “Galilee.” Really punchy mix on this tune that accents the bass & drums fantastically…many of the tones and production on these songs will automatically tip you off as to just how truly professional this band really IS – and this is definitely one of those tunes. Smart rhythm & groove and real focus you can hear in this track…everything from the vocal-flow to the tone of how they match the energy of “Galilee” is fantastically right on the mark. Some of the strongest hooks you’ll hear on this record are found right here in this song…an immaculately strong structure with gorgeous string sounds adding contrast to the low-end depths of this tune and absolutely well thought-out and sung ideas in the vocal-melodies.
Great inclusion of vibrant sounds and extraordinary atmospheres in many of these tunes that make the songs stand-out uniquely from themselves as the record plays. The slight Latin-influence on the sound of the slow-jam “From Spring Days To Winter” makes incredible use of the guitar…many of these ideas, tones and parts will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up with excitement and anticipation. The percussion & drums sound absolutely fantastic…the piano alongside them and the guitar all perfectly fill in the atmosphere with the subtle bass-tones to create a truly enveloping sound that really builds strongly. I don’t often expect a band like The Dreaming Street to create hooks that are easily digested but I felt like these were still accessible displayed at the pace they’re on here. Vocals sound solid…the emotional connection sounds like it’s woven directly into the approach & performance…an entire display of great ideas that fit this chilled-out vibe very well. Real defined texture to this track though…”From Spring Days To Winter” sounds vividly authentic and lifelike it feels like you could reach out and touch it. Love how the cymbals, piano and guitar notes all play like rain falling and how the atmosphere itself sounds like personal introspection on a long walk as the seasons change around you.
I wasn’t a huge fan of “Sarah’s Song” – but I did dig on the old-school R&B vibe that fuels the sound & ideas here. It’s the first time we get a bit more of the ‘showtune’ side of this band that will eventually creep into this album even more-so later on. For some that’ll work really well…for me, not as much. Not a knock on the performance or writing…they pull off their ambition with enthusiasm and passion in their approach, just as professionally as we’d expect by now.
Rebounding quickly and catching my attention immediately, “No Reply At All” was a massive highlight on this album for me. I love the up-tempo energy and the amount of audible passion you can hear that all involved have for this track. With the added horn-section coming in to make a bright & brilliant contribution to the flow of “No Reply At All” and a bit more definition to each part as they come at us as listeners…it almost comes out like a beautiful twist between sounds you might hear in a combination of bands like Go West and Tower Of Power. Absolutely some incredible highlights for singer Josiah Ruff, who puts in a vibrantly-electric performance on the microphone and really takes the stunning music made by the band to the next-level it needed to find with extremely well written parts and massive notes all spot-on the money. You’ll also hear the bass-lines and the presence there beginning to increase in all kinds of fantastic ways that really add to the groove & movement of “No Reply At All.” There’s a seriously uplifting vibe to this tune that can’t help but move you in all the right directions…great contrast between the melancholy in the lyrics and powerful energy in the music.
The more playful attitude…that Robbie Nevil/Go West-esque energy still shows itself brilliantly on “Say.” Major credit to John Avila on the bass here…he absolutely slays this song and really leads the way throughout the structure of “Say” with spectacular bass-lines and deep rhythm & groove. Really uplifting sound to the ideas in the vocals throughout this song…I mean…LISTEN to the inspired sound this band locks into around the 2:30 mark of “Say” and you’ll get exactly what I’m talking about. The highlights from Ruff continue on the lead-vocals with strong backing-vocals really taking this track to a complete victory. There’s a real inviting sound to “Say” that beckons you strongly to accept and enjoy – one of the easiest cuts on the record to immediately absorb, repeat and love to death.
“Wonder Child” gently plays dreamily…a jazz-piano ballad of sorts. Cyrus Rua on the keyboards/piano certainly takes hold of the spotlight here with a beautiful composition. Overall…”Wonder Child” is a great choice to help pace out the album and the performances are spectacular…what it trades in energy it gains in a more intimate and innocent sound that pulls you in close to listen. It’s gentle…it’s beautiful…it kind of glides on air and really hits that smooth-spot and intimate part inside of all of us. Something about “Wonder Child” really possesses that magic of ‘the moment’ in music…you’ll hear what I mean…it’s that kind of track that makes you pay that extra 10% of your attention to connect to the sincerity and beauty you hear.
Lyrically, I loved “Between Us” – this was definitely one of my favorite tunes as far as the words go. Detailing the toughest parts of the emotions we experience in relationships & love and coming to grips with the ending of a chapter or accepting life to be what it is…which is often heartbreaking, as we all know. “Between Us” comes a bit close to the Soft-Rock genre, but the elements of Soul, Pop and R&B still give this one a gleam to its shine. Ruff’s got a few questionable stylistic-choices in how he chooses to sing this one that may/may not work well with the listeners out there…I think once you kind of ‘get’ his style they’re easily accepted, but were you to listen to this track as a first experience with The Dreaming Street it might lead us to a different reaction. Lyrically – I also have to give massive credit to the following tune “Everything We Need” as well for its subtle inclusion and reference to one of the old Genesis records, Selling England By The Pound from 1973 into the words. Given that they’ve got one of those players from that band’s history (Nick D’Virgilio – Drums) on this album…I thought that was particularly clever to add in and even though that’s a known-thing amongst the band…it’s a really cool way of leaving a breadcrumb within the writing for people to follow the path, learn more and dig deeper. In the process of digging, you also get a real dose of audio-sweetness as the personality of this band opens-up even further into a more theatrical vibe. For some, that’s going to be a good thing…others are going to feel like they’re walking that fine-line between what’s music and what’s show-time with David Lee Roth…it’s fun.
I thought “Bridle Pass” was absolutely exceptional and outstanding all the way through. It was great to hear this band let loose in an instrumentally-driven tune like this…and as a result, everything from guitars to piano, bass to drums…it all gets a moment to truly stand-out and shine. Really versatile jam here…tons of intricate and precision musicianship on display here and a real highlight performance from the band overall…beyond that, “Bridle Pass” honestly has enough energy and hooks in the music alone to easily compete with anything else you’d hear on this record – it not only holds its own, it’s one of my favorite tunes on The Dreaming Street.
“Buttercup Baby” gets a bit too much into the theatrical, show-tune-style of sound for my own personal taste…but again, I appreciate that this is a sound that many people DO love and that The Dreaming Street pulls it off incredibly well. It moves…it grooves…I like the backing choir-style vocals that add into the mix and strengthen the vocal-melody here…but something about it really does echo a ‘musical’ somehow…you know…like a moment in Glee with the jazz-hands and top-hats and all that. It’s well-played and entertaining…just hard for me personally to ‘go there’ – know what I mean?
The bluesy “Closing Time” ends the record officially in an old-school style that is smooth to listen to and phenomenally well-executed. Great atmosphere in this tune…somewhere in the mix between a smoky-lounge sound and an old-time saloon; walking bass-lines and piano-jamming with percussion that sparkles around them and guitar that makes smart choices on when to jump into the mix. I’ll say this; they might not have chosen to end the record so much on one of their most intricate and complex tunes as they did choose to end it on one of their more focused ones. Compared to a lot of what we’ve heard throughout this record…you get the real feeling that this is the after-hours tune that breaks out with the band after the bar has closed…like they play this one just for the bartender as they’re all poured a final beer before the end of the night. So while the musicianship might not be as demanding on them or as intense as we’ve heard on several other tunes – each part that is played is laid down with exquisite tone, texture and natural feel and it really ends up feeling like we got ALL we could out of this final tune. Personally I think they made a great call to end this record in a style like this…it led to a real sense of completion and capped off a highly innovative, creative and talented set of songs from The Dreaming Street. Solid band of immense depth & talent…they’re consummate professionals driven to entertain.
Find out more from their official page at http://www.thedreamingstreet.com
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