Sound — 9
Dallas's clear and clean vocals are perfectly matched to the music he's playing. A far cry from Alexisonfire's post-hardcore fuelled mayhem, although not so different as to alienate his fans. There's a slight similarity in some of the clever guitar work and lyrics that are also exhibited in AOF, but this isn't a rehash of AOF songs that never made the cut. He uses some very interesting tuning, like on "Save Your Scissors," which is (apparently, according to tabs) in EBDGCe. The only musical "sense" I can make from this tuning is that the raised 5th string creates a "drop" tuning and that the raised 2nd makes the gap between the 3rd and 2nd more "regular." But enough of the musical terminology, his use of interesting chords and tunings and melodies makes each song sound different while still retaining a flow through the whole album. He often uses capos, but not in a way that he's reusing the same 3 chords at different positions to make it "original." His vocal melodies and use of sparce electric guitars and pianos only heighten the music here, instead of trying to add over an unimaginative song. The music all seems to fit together, not seeming like the same old melody, it all seems to fit well. I will admit the music from AOF is more innovative and varied as there is really only so much you can do with an acoustic and a voice, but this is stil a very cleverly made album with much thought put into it.
Lyrics — 8
The lyrics are very clever, not overusing large words like some bands would to sound "clever." The rhythm and timing of all the lyrics makes them seem much more intelligent than they actually look on paper, and some make little sense ("For I am The Ocean..." anyone), but the lyrics fit perfectly and it never seems forced, like he's desperately seeking for words to connect they just work. A number of the songs are about the rigours of touring and the heart-break and lonliness of leaving a loved one, it never sounds repetitive. They way he phrases words that often don't rhyme doesn't ever seem pointless, and, yes another AOF comparison, they actually remind me of some of the early "one syllable a scream" AOF work where George Pettit would write words that don't rhyme on paper, but rhyme via his delivery. I particularly like the lyrics for "Day Old Hate" which where very clever and perfect for conveying the sad tone of the song perfectly. "Sometimes (I Wish)" has some very intelligent lyrics which cleverly relate the feeling of love and trust he needs to know is recipricated from the "subject". Overall I was impressed by the lyrics.
Overall Impression — 9
Some of the most impressive songs on the album are "Save Your Scissors," "Comin' Home," "Day Old Hate," "In The Water, I am Beautiful," but every song is a winner (perhaps with the exception of "Sometimes (I Wish)" which begins to grate after a while as it starts to seem quite repetitive). I would be interested to see how the album would fair in a live situation, although you may purchase the "Live" album to try and get a taste of the experience. You'll want to come back to this album, and definately I would replace it if lost/broken/stolen/act of god. Dallas's side project actually stands up to his original band, unlike many side-projects. It also gives us a taste of his other various influence, and upon going back to listening to AOF you can see slight hints like "Oh that sounds like quite a "City And Colour" moment," and although you do see return similarities upon listening to AOF, you never get a feeling of copying or rehashing past ideas. In all this is a brilliant, dazzlingly stunning album that could prove to be a long and interesting side career that could, dare I say it, dwarf the success of AOF and continue for years to come. Watch this space.