My anxiety has been off the charts all weekend. Maybe it’s because I’m overwhelmed with work stuff or maybe it’s everything happening up here in Minneapolis right now with jury selection in the Derek Chauvin trial starting on Monday. Regardless, I haven’t been able to just relax even though I’ve spent most of my weekend just vegging out. Between the title of Lee Smythe’s album and the beautiful photograph that adorns the cover, something tells me that this could be just what I need to end my Sunday on a relaxing and motivating note.
“Waste Away With Me” had a smile creeping across my face as soon as it hit my speakers. The grainy recording quality leaves this opening track with a super retro vibe. There’s a strong Beatles vibe that I get from this opening track but also something a bit more modern. Regardless of what influences you may hear in this opening track, I could feel my anxiety and stress slowly leaving with every note that played through my house.
The graininess heard in “Waste Away With Me” clears up a bit for “I Need You” which was an instant favorite of mine. It reminded me of Langhorne Slim who is a personal favorite of mine. This track is super sweet and almost dancey at times while still being completely full of emotion and sensitivity. For me, that danciness comes from the prominent bassline felt throughout this track but the strumming guitars definitely help. Even with this upbeat dancey feeling, this track is a little bit subdued and calm. I love when tracks can do a little bit of everything as far as calm you down and give you energy and that’s exactly what “I Need You” does.
“Hey!” expands on the calming nature felt in “I Need You”. It’s one of those tracks that instantly catapults you into your daydreams or at least away from whatever is troubling you. I found myself completely adrift in a sea of calm throughout this track and before I knew it, it was over and “Spirits Own the Night” had taken over my house. The vibe does shift for this song into a little bit mainstream vibe that is absolutely infectious. Lee Smythe has so many tricks up his sleeve and that becomes clear as you listen to this track. Although the previous three tracks are great, they aren’t songs I would expect to hear on the radio but that changes with this one. I get the mass appeal of this track but also still get that vibe that only Lee Smythe can pull off.
Closing out the first side of this album is “Throw Your Stones”. Although I wanted a little more of that more mainstream indie-pop vibe felt on “Spirits Own the Night”, “Throw Your Stones” slows things back down to a waltz-styled beat with a more jazzy and bluesy vocal styling on top. Although I was bummed to have lost the danciness, there’s something so addicting about this track and something so beautiful. Again, it’s a completely different style than the previous tracks but definitely a style that I hope to get more off on the second side of this album.
“June & Jerry” gets the second side of this album started in a perfect way. This track starts with a hurried, but not frantic, beat and brings back a good mixture of “Hey!” and “Spirits Own The Night”. It’s a retro feeling track that instantly brings a smile to your face but also is clearly that of Lee Smythe. I was entranced by this song and all of the brilliant elements that pop up throughout the track like the dazzling string part (at least I think it’s strings) playing quick and short notes and the strumming guitar that is faint at times and front and center at others. This was definitely a favorite of mine.
The seventh track on this album is “Had To Be Me” which brings a little more emotion to the forefront. Don’t get me wrong, you hear passion and emotion throughout this album but I feel like it really comes to fruition during this track. The tempo is a little bit slower and the notes are sung with a little more delicacy. Lee’s voice seems to dance on top of everything else going on in a way that I hadn’t heard previously on this album. That tenderness turns into playfulness with “In My Sights” which will absolutely be a song I keep in my back pocket for a rainy day. This track is so fun and carefree. I just sat back and smiled as this track bumped throughout my house.
“Ok, Anne” goes back to the more somber and sweet vibe of “Hard To Be Me” but with a sense of the whimsy heard and felt in “In My Sights”. The tempo of this track drags just a little more than the previous songs but the track doesn’t come close to losing the energy of this album as a whole. I feel like this track should be a lot sadder than it actually comes off as but I love that. Like so many other tracks on this album, it’s a sweet song that really just helps you drift away from everything else which, in these days, is just what we all need.
This album closes out with the title track, “Of Dreams”. I like that this track closes out the album in a sound that’s similar to what got it started. That grainy and retro vibe comes back to the forefront almost flirting with turning to psychedleic at times. Another thing I really like about this track closing out this album is the way it almost wakes you up from the daydream you may have gotten lost in throughout the previous tracks but it wakes you up gracefully and peacefully. It just makes you feel ready to take on whatever else is going to come your way and that’s exactly what I need to finish my Sunday off on a high note.
My Favorite Track(s): “I Need You”; “June & Jerry”
For Fans Of: Calming yet energetic vibes; Beautiful vocals
Mosh-ability: 5 out of 10
What My Cats Thought Of It: Artie laid on the back of the couch; Autumn slept upstairs
How Badly I Want To See This Performed Live: 7 out of 10
My Overall Rating: 7 out of 10
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