Dylan Tauber – He Loves Carmen – Album Review
If you’ve read as much about Dylan Tauber as I have, you’d know you’re on safe ground when it comes to the music he’s making long before even pushing play. This man right here…is incredibly well-traveled, has all kinds of worldly experience, and is a justifiable artist by many definitions – not only does he create a stellar brand of his own Electro, but he’s actually quite the accomplished photographer as well. In addition to all the OTHER stuff he’s got goin’ on too – Dylan’s quite the busy guy. He’s lived in multiple places all over the globe, he’s had his music on the airwaves & screens worldwide as well, he’s written a screenplay, released an audiobook, had his art/photos shown in professionally renowned galleries…let’s be real here – Tauber’s a man of many gifts, yes – but most importantly, he’s using them.
All-in-all, he’s got an extremely listenable & accessible Electro-based record on his hands with He Loves Carmen. Right from the moment you push play on “You Are Never Alone,” you get those warm & radiant synth vibes spreading out through your speakers like they’re determined to coat the room you’re in with a glowing aura of sound, and heck ya, personally, I’m digging that! “You Are Never Alone” puts out a misty & mysterious type of sound that’s every bit as beautiful, largely in-part due to the use of the vocals in the mix, which you’ll find is added in brilliantly throughout the length of He Loves Carmen. It’s like the audible cherry on top…chances are, the majority of us would have already given an enthusiastic thumbs-up of approval on the merits of the music alone, but with that hint of ethereal added in by what the vocals bring to this vibe, tracks like “You Are Never Alone” go from being a really good Electro tune, to becoming quite the remarkable experience in sensory sound, and quite quickly. It’s definitely a fantastic gateway into the record, and if you like what you hear straight away on “You Are Never Alone,” you’re odds of liking or loving the rest of what you’ll find in the lineup is guaranteed.
It is designed with a fairly minimalistic approach, that’s fair to say – but the quality of the ingredients being used are as good as they get y’all. The production is top shelf stuff, and Dylan has an impeccable understanding of what makes a record cohesive from start to finish. I’d never go as far as to say he’s making music that could just be on in the background without you having to pay full attention to it, but I will say that after a couple of dedicated spins through the lineup, you’ll find having He Loves Carmen playing as the soundtrack for your day WILL make that moment in time so much better than it already was for ya. I listen to tracks like “Love Is All That Exists” & realize just how accessible this style of Dylan’s music really is – there are so many points in a single day where you’d wanna have music like this around ya. No one’s being punched in the face with a rapid beat for their attention here…Tauber’s approach is much more refined, delicate, and precise when it comes right down to it, and the moves he makes in his music earn your attention as opposed to trying to take it by sheer sonic force. Tracks like “Love Is All That Exists” have a wonderfully spiritual vibe that flow within them that expands to massage your soul.
“I Love Carmen” is another solid example of how well-suited the vocals are for the music on this record, and how innovatively they’re being used in terms of the sound & effects chosen. I’d readily concede that, Dylan’s not one to make drastic moves too often…he’s much more laidback, chilled out & mellow when it comes to the music he’s creating – that’s cool with me. Arguably, it does make his sound a bit more ‘mood dependent’ to a degree…like, you’d KNOW when you wanted to reach for a song like “I Love Carmen,” and the rest on this album…it might not be an everyday thing, but you’ll be thankful at those times when you DO reach for this record that it’s there for ya. There’s something special and uniquely comforting about the music Dylan’s making…”I Love Carmen” might be one of the finest cuts you can point to in terms of understanding the intangibles…the inexplicable feeling you get in listening to his songs. I listen to a track like “I Love Carmen” and I know without question that on the right day, at the right time, with a full supply of Kleenex beside me at the ready, a track like this could reduce me to a whole puddle of tears; and not even so much because it’s SAD…I don’t think that’s it at all – it’s actually the opposite…tracks like “I Love Carmen” are so genuinely beautiful to experience ya might just shed a tear or two. Dylan’s making music we can feel, and I can wholeheartedly say firsthand, it’s appreciated.
I’m probably more partial to the opening three tracks on He Loves Carmen than I am to “Don’t Tell Me” in the fourth spot of the fourteen-song set, but I do think it’s a very important cut to have on the album, and certainly this early on in the lineup. While I definitely believe there’s a whole smorgasbord of sound that’s interesting and enticing to each and every one of us, the reality is that Dylan’s also kept the beginning of this album moving at a real dialed-back pace…and having that extra beat & spark added into a track like “Don’t Tell Me” is gonna carry a long way when it comes to the masses out there. Like, to me, hearing this track was like hearing that one twist that could have made his music more accessible added into it, without pushing him outside of the realm of the style of sound he’s looking to generate. As in, it’s a more lively tune, yes – but it’s still cohesive with that misty glow & curious aura of evocative sound you’ll find thriving throughout this record. For the masses out there listening, they’re likely going to latch onto this track just that much more quickly, because there’s that much more to be found in terms of something they can recognize with the bass-lines & beat…and I’m cool with that too. Whatever it is that leads them into a lengthy listen, so they can appreciate all the ART that exists in the music surrounding its catchiest parts…tracks like “Don’t Tell Me” are a great way to bring people from inside of the mainstream to the outside fringe, to discover cuts like this that offer a real dose of crossover sound.
You can feel the amount of thought, heart, and passion that has been put into this set-list through songs like “Soulmate” – He Loves Carmen is fully loaded with music that’s designed to move you, and it WILL. I felt like “Don’t Tell Me” was a solid track, but I was stoked to find Dylan head right back into a mellower vibe with “Soulmate” right afterwards…to me, this is where the man is right in the pocket of what works best for his style & sound. Y’all regular readers know me though…I don’t need a flashy beat or a whole lot of fancy things in the music I’m listening to – what I really need is focus, commitment to the moment, and confidence in the material…I hear all three of these elements in Dylan’s music, track after track. Like, LISTEN to “Soulmate” for an example of what I’m talkin’ about here…it’s got everything it needs, and perhaps not a single ounce more; and for as delicate as it so often appears with its airy atmosphere – notice how intense and captivating it is too? That’s the result of the right choices being made in both the ideas and the execution folks…that’s Dylan knowing how to get the most out of each element added into the mix, how to find that clarity that connects to us, and when to have these sounds fluctuate as it moves along in a way that’ll grab our interest & attention with ease. There ya go – that’s exactly the word I was looking for – ease. It’s actually quite amazing just how natural Dylan’s digital vibes truly are.
Alright…so…clearly I’ve made my case on behalf of the more artistically-devoted side of Tauber’s tunes – but don’t get it twisted, I’m not opposed to a more upbeat track or more energy found in the music when it shows up, like it will on “I Love You.” Personally, I could listen to the more spread out & ethereal songs on this record for days on end – and I HAVE – but I’m also understanding of the fact that not everyone is ME, and mixing it up with a bit more of a pulse added into the album via tracks like “Don’t Tell Me” or “I Love You” is a good move for Dylan to have made for the masses out there. The artistic crowd is gonna have no problem sliding right into grooves like this, and those folks that were hoping to find a livelier energy will get what they’re looking for every couple of tracks as the set for He Loves Carmen continues to play on. “I Love You” is quite the catchy cut when it comes right down to it – like I said, I ain’t opposed to that – who would be? Dylan makes it incredibly easy on us all to like or love the music he’s making, and I’d assume the addition of a more upbeat energy will always work out well for the guy in the court of public opinion. Ultimately, tracks like “I Love You” would be pretty tough to resist, and I’m not so inclined to try – I’d rather just turn it on UP where it belongs, thank you very much.
“Let It Go” is a freakin’ spectacular example of crossover sound and a sensational highlight in the lineup of this record overall. Like…if I was Dylan, I’d be looking directly at this tune as the single to go with; the only disadvantage it’s got is a title that’s gonna get it lost in a sea of Disney-related horrors on the internet – otherwise, it’s virtually guaranteed to be a huge hit with listeners out there far & wide across the globe. For the most part, I’ve felt like Tauber’s gone his own way for the majority of this record – up until this track here, the closest comparison I could make would probably be to something like LoFi Chill from here in our independent music-scene – it’s tracks like “Let It Go” that give you a real glimpse of the more massive potential Dylan has to reach the masses, if that’s what he chooses to do. I’d put this track right up there with some of the best I’ve heard in well-known acts I really dig & respect like Linus Loves or Dada Life…and that’s great company to be keepin’ as an artist for sure. With the synthetic sweetness in the melody, the vibrant bounce of the synths, and the smooth fluidity you’ll find in the design from the beginning to the end, “Let It Go” becomes one of the most accessible cuts you’ll find on the record & one of the most justifiable reasons you’ll find to keep listening to He Loves Carmen both now, and in the future. This track will hold up for quite some time – truly, I think the entire record will – but this track in particular is essentially guaranteed to get each and every one of us coming back to listen time and again.
Brilliant use of the vocals in the mix on “I Am A Mirror” and the crystalline vibes you’ll hear. A great use of hot & cold…you get the warm vibrant synth-bass lines and the ice-like atmospheric elements added in around it – “I Am A Mirror” is one of those real subtle grooves that you probably won’t even realize how addicted to it you’ve become until you’re already halfway down the rabbit-hole, never to return. That sound he brings in towards the end around the 3:08 mark…man…it’s hard to say that I wouldn’t have maybe wanted a little more of that a bit earlier on…and once you hear that moment for yourself, you’ll understand what I mean. Still…I trust the instincts of Tauber at this point without question – if he’s content to leave that part for the finale and just give us all that tiny morsel of transition towards the end of this tune, then so be it – that clever move has had me listening to the very final seconds of “I Am A Mirror” every single time. It’s got one of the toughest spots in the lineup of He Loves Carmen for sure – coming after the accessible heights of “Let It Go” is no easy task; I felt like Dylan wisely switched up the entire vibe just enough here to keep the energy flowing, yet give himself the opportunities required to continue to morph and transition his sound even further as you make your way into the album’s second half. All-in-all, “I Am A Mirror” is a real mesmerizing & hypnotic moment in time – and I’m here for it.
I think the most potentially indifferent you’d find me about this album, would be towards “All I Want Is You.” It’s not a bad song by any stretch of the imagination – none of these tunes are – but at this point in the record, we naturally compare what we’re hearing to what we’ve already heard…and it’s harder to say that this track specifically brings anything new to the album that we’ve yet to experience. It’s got the same slickness in production and cleverness to the combination of music & vocals…but the idea itself is probably a bit on the thin-side of what Dylan’s capable of in terms of what might draw us in to listen. As I like to remind the world every so often in these reviews I write – there are about one or two albums on this planet with more than twelve cuts that I’d consider to be perfect records…anything above that number, or even ten for the most part, is usually gambling a bit, and an indication that there could be a bit more reduction in the process to achieve a more maximum result. As in, sometimes we have to be as critical as we can in order to objectively see or hear what’s really working in favor of an entire album – one of the hardest things any of us can do is spend so much time on working on something only to throw it away. I’m not necessarily suggesting that would have been the right move to make with “All I Want Is You” – I’m simply saying it’s harder to justify its inclusion based on what we’ve already heard…I feel like Tauber’s already shown us several better cuts, and more engaging material. Am I gonna turn this OFF? Heck no! That’s not what I’m saying at all. Any Tauber track that might be relegated to a B-side on He Loves Carmen would be an A-side on most every other record out there y’all.
It proves to be a tougher point in the set-list overall – “Light Warrior” has a few things I’d probably look at adjusting as well, but the idea itself is a very strong one, with highly memorable hooks in the mix for ya. Ultimately, it’s got a DUSTIER sound in comparison to the rest of the set though Dylan…and that in itself is a strange choice to have made on a song called “Light Warrior” when everything else in the lineup seems to have had such a sparkle & shine in the production. As far as the vocals are concerned, I think there are massively significant highlights to be found here, and some of the most unquestionably strong moments from the microphone that appear on this entire record…but I don’t know that I felt that way about the entire performance as a whole, you feel me? So…it’s not that it’s quite as far off as that it creates a completely imbalanced experience, just a less balanced one than we’ve experienced so far on this album, you following me? Personally, I hear a track with the potential that “Light Warrior” has, and the vibrant way that Tauber has mixed the rest of the songs on He Loves Carmen, and I know deep down there’s a remix waiting to happen here…there’s plenty of opportunity to get even more out of this song than he currently has, and it’s an idea that’s well worth pursuing. As it stands, it’s a good track and still got plenty to offer your ears…like I said, there are some genuinely spellbinding and jaw-dropping moments from the microphone here – but yes, I do think that Tauber’s got more to bring to this overall. I’d be inclined to give it a polish and a shine my friend…there’s single-worthy potential in this cut, 100%.
“The Sky Is Alive” is another example of what I’ve been saying…not a bad track by any stretch, but also one that’s harder to argue contributes a defining moment of memorable sound to the lineup at the end of the day. Like I’ve been tellin’ ya from the get-go, it’s all cohesive enough in the vibe, sound, and style – but it’s really tough to go the distance through fourteen tracks and not roll into a section of songs that might not feel like it needed a bit more this or that to warrant their inclusion. “The Sky Is Alive” is a perfect example of a song that I’m never gonna turn off, but one that I’m not desperately reaching for the volume to turn up either…it’s right there in the middle of the road, which is too close to the path to indifference than an artist with the skillset, instincts, abilities, and ideas that Tauber has, should ever be. So yep…I’m all for being ruthless, I’m all for being brutal…when it comes to creating the lineup for an official record, if it’s not adding, it’s theoretically subtracting in some other way…and I feel like these past three cuts have had Dylan walking a fine line, just managing to stay on the fringe of what should stay in the set. I maintain that if you dig some of it, you’ll likely dig all of it just like I do personally myself – but I’m not at all opposed to advising him to be more objective & ruthless when making future albums.
As spread out as sound can be, “There Are Angels Everywhere” demonstrates a mastery of clarity – LISTEN to the production on this cut will ya? Amazing! The high-end in the percussion is immaculate, the low-end swell of the synth is essential, and the contrast between each element plays a crucial role in the subtle moves being made throughout this track. Admittedly, it’s one of the most spare in sound that you’ll find in the whole lineup, but I felt like the fascinating dimension of what Tauber creates ended up firmly intact here. It might not have that one defining moment or hook that we typically expect to find in any given song we listen to, but I’d argue that’s because this entire song IS the hook y’all – you feel me? “There Are Angels Everywhere” really plays like its own separate moment in time…very captivating in that sense…yes it’s still cohesive with this album at-large for sure, but you really get pulled right into this cut’s large swirl of sound and lost within the icy-warm glow it creates through your speakers in all the right ways. Something about “There Are Angels Everywhere” just hits different, and I’m diggin’ that.
“I Miss You” – I DID miss you! With the ‘you’ in this case being THIS sound, right here, right now…this is that inspired artistic spark that I feel like the last few cuts have somewhat been missing, and the very style of sound that got every one of us listening so intently as the album began. A wonderful return to what’s been the most memorable, endearing, and sincerely entertaining vibes to be found on He Loves Carmen – “I Miss You” ends up being such an incredible cycle back towards the beginning that it’s like an all-new highlight when it appears this late in the set. It could be that absence makes the heart grow fonder – like I told ya earlier, when something’s not adding, it’s subtracting – but sometimes the effect of taking something away makes the impact of bringing it back even more powerful…and I think that could be part of the story when it comes to how we experience listening to “I Miss You.” The other part of the story, at least to me, is that it’s just a straight-up quality cut by every conceivable definition – so there’s that to consider…this is extremely strong material right here, and a track that’s essentially guaranteed to keep ME coming back to this album many, many times over these years to follow. I’d assume you’ll completely feel the same way – “I Miss You” is one of the real gems found on this album.
“I Love My Father.” Wait – what? I thought He Loves Carmen? I suppose you’re probably allowed to do both…and heck, I’d probably even encourage that. All kidding aside, Dylan’s wrapped this album up with a stellar finale that really hits the mark…”I Love My Father” is another real highlight in the set as well, giving his new album an extremely strong one-two punch at the end with “I Miss You” coming right beforehand. Many of these songs are short, hovering around the 2:30 mark or so…and more often than not, like right here on “I Love My Father” – you’ll probably feel like you could have welcomed another couple minutes in length to many of these tunes. That’s what the repeat button is for my friends – and that’s nothing but a great sign of music that moves you…songs that you want to stick around just a little bit longer, because we truly love what we hear, and feel that genuine connection between the sound and our soul. “I Love My Father” is a beautiful way to have ended this album…great melody, and very sincere sound at work here…all as professionally produced as the best of what you’ve heard from Tauber without question. Definitely the kind of impactful ending you wanna find at the end of an album – “I Love My Father” had me reaching to repeat this whole record every time I had the time to listen to it again throughout this past week, and with the strengths of the way the album starts, I was hooked back into listening to the entire lineup time & time again. Lots of incredible strengths and allure in the music that Dylan Tauber is making, and I’m absolutely interested in whatever it is the man comes up with next.
Find out more about Dylan Tauber at his official website: https://www.dylantauber.com
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