David Arn – Walking To Dreamland
Opening with title track ‘Walking To Dreamland’, David Arn’s latest release starts off with a laid back and relaxed feel.
A soft piano riff unfolds over a loose drum shuffle before David Arn’s vocal enters the scene, with an unassuming air that has a chilled out lo fi feel to it. ‘Better Off Today’ continues with the relaxed vibe, this time with more edgy instrumentation. Here, Arn’s vocal leans heavily towards the Eels’ Mark Everett and the National’s Matt Berninger, all husky and beautifully cracked. Add to that Melissa Hollick’s rich backing vocals and the track comes together with an understated coherence. ‘Even In A Town Of Seven Churches’ draws on a country style, opening with yearning strings and unfolding into a restful bad of sound that rocks the listener gently embracing with its sonic arms, while ‘Real Time’ saunters through its three minutes like a joyous frolick through the misty woods. The alt.folk feel is particularly strong here, and reminds me of the somewhat obscure Additional Moog, the project of Jim Williams who went on to create more work as Hall Of Ghosts. ‘When You Lost Your Situation’ cranks things up a bit, turning up the rock dial with its smoky piano stabs and sultry guitar licks that spit and frazzle their way through the track. There’s even some gorgeous swirly organ for good measure. ‘Rosalina’s Music’ pulls things back again, this time with a celtic lilt that is provided by the melancholic strings, while David Arn’s vocal sits prominently in the mix, allowing his noteworthy lyrics to be heard clearly and well received. The album has splashes of colour and true creativity – witness the evolving flourishes of ‘Hungry Kisses’, with its chorus laden pianos that create a deep sonic wash, while Arn’s vocal is treated to all kinds of psychedelic effects, causing his voice to become a whole new kind of instrument. ‘Something More Between Us’ sits more firmly in the folk/blues singer songwriter camp, with its confident and delicate acoustic guitar that creates a foundation for the cutting and breathy vocals, while ‘The Last Word’ employs a darker tone with its deep piano notes that resonate. The track gradually unfolds and reveals some epic, anthemic moments with its angelic voices and squealing guitar notes, and creates an atmosphere that is possible the most likely to cause the listener to stop and pay really close attention. There’s the feeling that something deeper is happening, something other and beyond, as if David Arn has truly connected with something beyond himself and managed to channel that inspiration into what is presented to us in audible form. Walking To Dreamland brings itself to its close with final track ‘Water Lilies’. It’s a slightly wonky sounding track, with its heavily phased notes that wobble and wander along while Arn’s vocal drifts easily over the instrumentation. Once things have all come to an end, it’s time to stop and reflect on this collection of songs, that managed to balance a creative experimentation with a very focused form of songwriting, which makes this an album worthy of more than simply a moment’s attention.