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Aaron English - American Fever Dream CD (album) cover


Aaron English


Crossover Prog

3.00 | 1 ratings

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3 stars With his third production "American Fever Dream", Seattle based self-styled piano man Aaron English takes one more step away from the world music influenced art pop he made his debut with back in 2002. Released two years after a tour bus accident threatened to stop his career dead in it's tracks, the recording sessions for this disc was if not wholly then at least mostly funded by his fans. A token of appreciation to be admired.

What English provides his fans with is an album filled with songs in the singer/songwriter tradition. If not all piano based I'd wager a bet that most of them have been crafted by means of the tangents. The songs tend to be of the slower variety, and sadness and melancholy moods explored throughout.

The opening three pieces comes across as almost archetypical planned singles for the mainstream market, different variations on the fragile and vulnerable theme played out on the rather simplistic opening two efforts, with a more uplifting tune with richer arrangements following. Good songs, making a strong first impression fading over time. At least in the ears of someone who consumes vast amounts of music of a more sophisticated variety yearly.

With Sleight of Heart we're provided with something rather different though. Featuring plucked guitar licks and a driving bass line backed by a fluctuating psychedelic tinged synth motif and a dampened symphonic-inspired backdrop this piece plays with more drive and energy, and with brilliant lyrics anyone who has suffered from love-sickness will instantly recognize themselves in. With a nice mostly instrumental outro the melancholic dreamers can loose themselves in.

The less is more approach of the following piano ballad Peace makes for another solid effort, while the big rhythms dominating the rather more spirited A Northern Sort of Silence provides good variation, the simple piano motif and dampened accordion textures in the latter adding a depth and richness to the proceedings which adds an extra dimension to the composition. An unexpected break towards the end followed by a spirited bass and drums driven outro a further positive aspect of this tune.

Pale Saint is a rather unconvincing effort as far as I'm concerned though, and while the reggae arrangements of God Bless You and Your Man adds an uplifting touch that makes it hard to dislike this ear worm of a tune it's not among the songs I listen to with great interest myself. Could be a potential staple on FM radio that one, it's a song rather hard to forget and one I think a mainstream oriented audience will enjoy even when on heavy rotation.

The Name of This Song Is a Secret is the final piece served by English, and this slow, simplistic lead and backing vocals driven piano ballad is a marvellous construction as far as I'm concerned. The dampened percussion underscoring the emotionally laden vocal performance fits the song perfectly, and while the droning 3 minute long psychedelic outro may not be to everybody's taste I found it to be a natural and fitting conclusion to both song and album, a tranquil fadeout taking us from Aaron's melancholic universe and back into real life.

Single edits of the first two tracks have been added as bonus material, so that the fans who like those versions better won't have to buy the singles presumably. A nice touch to include them anyhow, even if they don't add much to the album as such.

All in all American Fever Dream is a fine production, and a pretty solid one if mainstream oriented singer/songwriter material is something you hold dear. Those who dearly love his debut album "All the Waters of This World" should approach this CD with quite a bit of caution though, as Aaron English today are many miles and waters removed from the style he explored 8 years ago.

Windhawk | 3/5 |


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