Sound — 9
I first heard about this album from Jo Wiley's sexy voiced and appraising TV advert about 6 months ago and I thought Well who can refuse that? So I didn't. I bought it on my next trip out, got it home, banged it on my computer and listened to it for a bit. I got bored very quickly and left it gathering hard drive dust for a few months. Then, a few weeks back, I came across it again and was completely blown away. I don't know what changed about my sensibilities or mood at the time but I now think him to be one of the most beautiful and clever singer/songwriter's there are. There is not only the obvious single material in Dream Catch Me is to be had here. Beautiful little hidden gems such as Gone in the Morning, which is deep syncopated voice incredible (an in-joke there, for listeners of the album), and UFO, which uses a Theremin for crying out loud, which don't make such an obvious poppy statement, but when you really listen you can sit back and think wowhe knows what he's doing! From his huge, sweeping songs to his snappy little numbers, the diversity from such a narrow origin, of a single acoustic guitar, is staggering. Not to mention the playing. Using finger picking, cross picking, classical picking, most types of picking really, popping a snare and bass beat on his guitar body, tapping all at the same time, in the same song. Enough said really. See him live for this! The one thing I would say was bad about the album is the few points at which it becomes slightly introspective and loses momentum a bit, namely with Sitar-Y Thing and Lullaby (forgivable seeing as it's the final track).
Lyrics — 9
From watching his live performances it is clear that many of his songs do have a meaning behind them lyrically. He loves the concept of dreams, the whole album possessing this quality of an invented reality, even making his few political statements (too much fighting, not enough peace/love etc.) he does it in a notably surreal way (e.g. what would and alien think if he saw this planet) which makes for some wondrous listening throughout. What's more is that the quality of the singing is just beautiful, every word is obvious and defined and the harmonies are just amazing. It may be the case that it's all a bit too weird for you but just open your mind to the oddness before shooing it.
Overall Impression — 9
Most people would make The Jack Johnson Comparison I won't. I won't simply because there isn't one. Not to Jack Johnson, not to most people. For one thing he beats JJ's summer afternoon drowsy rubbish off the radar, with his all year round, all round brilliance. For another, he is certainly one of the more uniquely styled player/singer/songwriter's you're likely to hear, with no one else quite like him. He's like a Frankenstein's Monster of the reasons music is good.