D-Harmany – Us – Album Review
Music can be so interestingly-specific sometimes.
When you think about it…we all more or less write about what we write about…we find our comfortable spot with the themes we know and live within the context & subtext of it all. The guy that writes about ‘chics and cars’ will most likely always write stories about ‘chics and cars.’ The country-singer who lost his dog…it’s still not coming back anytime soon; may as well stretch that theme over nine albums and a whole career. The guy that hasn’t got the girl…is still searching…
You get the idea I’m sure, like I said, we all write about what we write about; I just find it particularly interesting to see which themes dominate the minds of the brilliant musicians we come across.
Peace, love, unity…of course, these are massive themes in music as well – ones that you’ll find woven throughout D-Harmany’s new album Us. This excellent set of songs gets increasingly innovative as the album plays on and really builds upon its own contained dynamics. D-Harmany starts out in nature at the beginning of “Awaken,” a really atmospheric & inspired opening to Us. It has a chorus of vocals calling us to consciousness…calling us to join in with the spirit of D-Harmany and truly find a connection with it while we experience this musical journey.
Between “Awaken,” and the second track “Forever” coming at you back-to-back, it will leave you scratching your head wondering what on earth the third track could possibly sound like. This second song is so completely polar opposite of the opening tones, vibe and feel, that even though the subject is quite a pleasant one and the music extremely upbeat and happy; it still comes out as a bit of a jolt to the system when hearing these two one after the other. That being said, D-Harmany is setting a quick expectation for the unexpected and you can officially consider my ears to be curious…
Here’s where things turn from good to great; “Mother” is one matriarchal-giant of a song. Excellent vocals from D-Harmany here; one part Michael Jackson, one part Peter Gabriel in this massive, slow-building grind – this song delivers an emotional punch that wasn’t part of the plans in the first two songs. Thematically dramatic, musically-dynamic, this song is beyond all expectations… Absolutely loving the guitars, the slow pulse of the drumbeat, and the vocals completely make this song as incredible as it becomes through truly inventive writing and a convincing, passionate performance.
You’ll notice from doing a little research that one of D-Harmany’s main influences is the great Bobby McFerrin. Now, many people out there don’t realize he went on to be a lot, lot more than he displayed through the massive-hit “Don’t Worry Be Happy.” McFerrin has always been a champion of the peace, love, unity and connection aspects of music; and through tracks like “Forever,” and “You Are Love,” you can hear the fearless love-and-happiness-warrior in D-Harmany. There are a TON of people out there that would agree that writing ‘happy’ is one of the hardest things to pull off well…one of the hardest to truly convince us all that you’re feeling it. D-Harmany pulls this off each track…you can hear that he’s loving both the music he makes and the messages he delivers. Without being overly-preachy whatsoever, Us as an album often presents his perspective and allows you to make the choice to accept the words or to not.
There’s definitely an early-to-mid 1980’s vibe here. As much as I can barely even handle the title “Love University,” the song itself has a warm and inviting sound. I’m not gonna lie to D-Harmany, that title needs to GO, but the rest works extremely well! I don’t know if I’m completely crazy or not when it comes to the music…but there have actually been several moments that have reminded me of Scritti Politti…I know I’m probably alone here, but is anyone else getting that? The combination of subtle electrodes and melody…or melodic-instruments and a soft voice…something about it reminds me of that time & era.
Anyhow…I can certainly forgive a guy for a rough song-title…we all know I certainly don’t get every word right…it happens. And aside from that…who wants to be grumpy when listening to D-Harmany anyway? “I DO,” said no one, ever… This is completely positivity-based music and at times, breathtakingly beautiful and enchantingly-captivating. Perfect example? “Feel.” I know a whole ton of these words-thingies…but I don’t think I know enough of the right ones to be able to describe how incredibly beautiful and how amazing the performance is on this song. With two songs remaining on Us…I’m not going to even remotely give him a chance – I know I’ve just heard the song that will resonate the hardest with me; this track is so incredibly melodic, beautiful and straight-up awesome that the odds of out-writing it in the final two, would be slim for anyone.
For a moment here…I sat smugly, feeling instant gratification when “The Time Has Come To Love” started up…I was going to be right about the statement above…I could feel it. Not a bad track by any means, but this particular cut I felt borrowed a little too heavily from past influences in its melody, and perhaps the most ‘dated’ in sound. Definitely the familiar synth-pulse from the 80’s decade, spiced up with a bit of drama and nearly Spanish-influence in sound…it’s one of the most challenging musically, but also the most free of the pop-influenced ‘hooks’ that have worked so well for D-Harmany throughout the album.
But then he went ahead and did it…intentional or not, he’s saved the most beautiful offering for the very last song. This memorable impact comes in the tiny, isolated song called “Miracle.” It sounds like gentle-waves are crashing quietly in behind this song…I’m not quite sure what that effect is…it might very well just be the breathing of D-Harmany in between lyric-lines…but it works. The words are beautiful, the music has gorgeous, soft melody…but the vocals will absolutely blow your mind. This is the kind of exact committed performance that can induce tears of true joy as it winds through passionate emotional tones and a vocal-flow that should win awards.
THAT, my friends…is how to go about creating a lasting impact. When “Miracle” stopped here at the studio I sat in pure silence for about five minutes just thinking about how incredible the song I just heard was – have you ever done that? It was so intensely beautiful…it was like the world had completely stopped for that last moment of time and had me hanging on D-Harmany’s every single word and listening closely to every wonderful note. What an incredible ending to a truly beautiful and inventive album free from all the pretension you’ll find in nearly any other genre; this music was made purely from the heart and this album radiates inspiration and sincere joy.
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