David Arn - 'Walking to Dreamland'

Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.

In this Independent Spotlight review, I’ll be taking a good look at David Arn and his new record ‘Walking to Dreamland.’ The album drops in just a few weeks, but Arn has given me the opportunity to analyse the ten track record ahead of it’s February 1st release date. Let’s jump straight into ‘Dreamland.’

When I conduct a longer analyse of an artist’s music, I tend to find some background information on them to provide better context to the music. David Arn is already accomplished; ‘Walking to Dreamland’ is his second record and he’s been featured on NPR stations and commercial Delta Airlines flights.

The song ‘Walking to Dreamland’ is absolutely stunning and mesmerizing. It’s bluesy, dark, atmospheric, and moody. The lyrics are surreal and dreamlike, surrounded by an exceptional production. In particular, the electric guitar and piano riffs are superb, with the sparse organ arrangements giving a wonderful aura to the track. It’s a powerful introduction to David Arn.

‘Better Off Today’ has very intriguing instrumentation; it’s softer and much more acoustic. Arn’s vocals are distinctive: raw, emotional, and charged with the wisdom of his years. His musical style is especially similar to J.J Cale or an older Nick Lowe. The production is minimalistic yet full.

‘Even in a Town of Seven Churches’ introduces a beautifully haunting violin. Arn’s biographical information boasts of a characteristic lyrical style. In that respect, he delivers in spades. The lyrics are lovely. At it’s heart, ‘Real Time’ is a charming little love ballad, one that is exquisitely written and performed. The acoustic jam and brass section give this song the folk feel of Greenwich Village and the jazzy feel of Bourbon Street.

‘When You Lost Your Situation’ continues to exemplify the musical prowess of David Arn and the musicians performing with him. There’s something about the eccentric electric guitar blues riffing and subtle organ orchestration that gives tracks on this record a uniquely different appeal in comparison to the rest of the independent music scene. Arn showcases his ability to rock and roll and croon in space of a few minutes. That’s special.

‘Rosalina’s Music’ has a much heavier dose of classical orchestration applied to it. It’s alluring, though, reminiscent of the latter half of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Jungleland’ or something similar. ‘Hungry Kisses’ lends the lead to the pianist, backed by a powerhouse bass line. Arn remains in an interesting state of solitude on this album; the music cascades around his vocals as he stands unmoved.

There’s an impressive amount of musical diversity on ‘Walking to Dreamland.’ David Arn skips effortlessly through folk, blues, rock and roll, jazz, and classical arrangements, genre-hopping like nobody’s business. To make a musical analogy, it’s like if you took every song Bob Dylan has ever written and scrambled a playlist of ten of them. That is the kind of musical diversity that gleams from ‘Walking to Dreamland.’

‘Something More Between Us’ returns to the rustic, folky sound of Arn’s acoustic guitar. He embodies the perfect Nashville crooner in tracks like this, a stark contrast to the harder songs on this album. The enticing instrumentation on this track is matched perfectly by the light harmonies with a female vocalist on the choruses.

‘The Last Word’ may be my favorite track on the record. It’s just a classy track, doused in catchy vocals and complementary riffing. ‘Water Lilies’ closes out the album with an enchanting synthesized melody and drowned out vocals. It feels experimental, yet classical. Think ‘Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds’ meets ‘Day in the Life.’ Floating synthesizers descend into silence like an instrumental left on David Bowie’s cutting room floor after composing the soundtrack to ‘Labyrinth.’

‘Walking to Dreamland’ is an incredibly good record. I hadn’t met an Independent Spotlight review I didn’t have any constructive criticism for until now. Furthermore, I hadn’t met a record that left me so astounded that I’ll actually go out and purchase it when it comes out. David Arn’s new album accomplished both of those feats. Those looking for a new addition to their musical libraries should check out ‘Walking to Dreamland.’ It’s a superior album that has something for nearly anyone with an appreciation for finely crafted music, and that’s exactly what it is: finely crafted.

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