Dent May: Warm Blanket

Beneath the sunny exterior of Warm Blanket lies a summer album preoccupied with old age, loneliness and unrequited love. Luckily, the warm blanket of soothing pop-soul that envelopes the music keeps the album from being the wet blanket it could have been.

Dent May

Warm Blanket

Label: Paw Tracks
US Release Date: 2013-08-27
UK Release Date: 2013-09-02
Label website
Artist website

Appearances can be deceiving. Looking at the cheesy album cover of Dent May's new release, Warm Blanket, you might expect a parody of a 1970s easy-listening "music for lovers" collection. Cueing up the first song, May's multi-tracked, harmony-drenched voice croons "Turn up the speakers baby / Dim the lights down low" in a syrupy invitation. Ah, this fits right in with the cover picture, you may be thinking. But there's a clue in the next line that this is actually a very different kind of album. "I've got something on my mind", he sings. For, beneath the sunny exterior of Warm Blanket lies a summer album preoccupied with old age (even though May is only 27), loneliness and unrequited love. Luckily, the warm blanket of soothing pop-soul that envelopes the music keeps the album from being the wet blanket it could have been.

May recorded Warm Blanket over the course of a month, far-removed from his northern Mississippi home. In a purportedly haunted Victorian mansion near the ocean in St. Augustine, Florida, the multi-instrumentalist put down 11 opulently orchestrated tracks. Like a Todd Rundgren for the now generation, it's remarkable that May played the majority of instruments on Warm Blanket, with only the occasional guest on violin or horns. And, despite his first album having the title The Good Feeling Music of Dent May and His Magnificent Ukulele, there's nary a uke to be heard on this, his third, release. Since that first album, May has set out to prove he's more than a novelty act.

The isolation of living alone far from home in an unfamiliar locale may be partly responsible for the overall feel of melancholy and yearning for romantic connection hanging over the album's lyrics. "I'm one small fish in a great big ocean / Lost in the sea / Spend too much time wishing and hoping / You could love me", he sings on "Corner Piece", just one of the similarly themed tracks on the album. In "Do I Cross Your Mind", May sings of a girl he left behind and wonders whether she thinks about him (you can bet he thinks about her). In the last part of the song he echoes The Beach Boys' "Don't Worry Baby": "Don’t worry darlin' / I'm coming home". He repeats the line over and over, starting from a softly strummed acoustic guitar foundation, and building to a crescendo of horns, violin and drums to celebrate his triumphant return to her. Whether she's even waiting for him is another question entirely.

In the dream waltz of "Yazoo", May sings about falling for a crying girl at a party and hoping she'll go home with him. "If I had the nerve to say what's in our head / I feel that I may be alone until I'm dead / Please let it be me", he despairs to himself. Even in the snappy disco-soul-pop confection of "Born Too Late", he's feeling lonely because he's too young for the woman who's the object of his affections.

Eventually all the pining seems to be getting to him and he's ready to chuck it all in and give up. In "I'm Ready to Be Old", the most musically sparse song found here, he proclaims "I'm ready to be old / And wrinkly and gray / I'm ready to be old / And it's not far away / I'm sick of being young / It isn't all that great". Cue the violins (literally).

It's not all doom and gloom. There are genuine sparks in the XTC-like "Let Them Talk", a song of defiance against small town talk that he and a romantic interest have fallen prey to. Elsewhere, "Found a Friend" (not so dissimilar to "Best Friend" from May's previous album Do Things) is lyrically and musically buoyant, as he revels in the possibilities of a newfound friendship atop a Pet Sounds worthy soundscape of sprightly piano and tambourine.

On an album that wears its love of The Beach Boys on its sleeve, it's only fitting that the closing song "Summer is Over" echo the recent closing "Summer's Gone" from last year's comeback Beach Boys album, That’s Why God Made the Radio. Both songs mourn the passing of time and the loss of youth. Over a pedal steel guitar that can't decide if it wants to be Hawaiian or hillbilly, May sings "I'm growing older / My sunny days are over". Yet, while the Beach Boys song is sad and resigned, all minor chords and wistfulness, May's song is almost jaunty. More importantly, he's come to terms with it all: "But this year / I ain't gonna shed a tear". The light of hope still glimmers for him, despite the earlier songs of heartache, as he puts his faith in the prospect that "maybe this winter I will keep warm with you." Chalk it up to May's relative youth, or just a more upbeat outlook than the aging Beach Boys. Either way, it'll be interesting to hear the music Dent May is turning out when he's Brian Wilson’s age.





Run the Jewels - "Ooh LA LA" (Singles Going Steady)

Run the Jewels' "Ooh LA LA" may hit with old-school hip-hop swagger, but it also frustratingly affirms misogynistic bro-culture.


New Translation of Balzac's 'Lost Illusions' Captivates

More than just a tale of one man's fall, Balzac's Lost Illusions charts how literature becomes another commodity in a system that demands backroom deals, moral compromise, and connections.


Protomartyr - "Processed by the Boys" (Singles Going Steady)

Protomartyr's "Processed By the Boys" is a gripping spin on reality as we know it, and here, the revolution is being televised.


Go-Go's Bassist Kathy Valentine Is on the "Write" Track After a Rock-Hard Life

The '80s were a wild and crazy time also filled with troubles, heartbreak and disappointment for Go-Go's bass player-guitarist Kathy Valentine, who covers many of those moments in her intriguing dual project that she discusses in this freewheeling interview.


New Brain Trajectory: An Interview With Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree

Two guitarists, Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree make an album largely absent of guitar playing and enter into a bold new phase of their careers. "We want to take this wherever we can and be free of genre restraints," says Lee Ranaldo.


'Trans Power' Is a Celebration of Radical Power and Beauty

Juno Roche's Trans Power discusses trans identity not as a passageway between one of two linear destinations, but as a destination of its own.


Yves Tumor Soars With 'Heaven to a Tortured Mind'

On Heaven to a Tortured Mind, Yves Tumor relishes his shift to microphone caressing rock star. Here he steps out of his sonic chrysalis, dons some shiny black wings and soars.


Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras' tētēma Don't Hit the Mark on 'Necroscape'

tētēma's Necroscape has some highlights and some interesting ambiance, but ultimately it's a catalog of misses for Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras.


M. Ward Offers Comforting Escapism on 'Migration Stories'

Although M. Ward didn't plan the songs on Migration Stories for this pandemic, they're still capable of acting as a balm in these dark hours.


Parsonsfield Add Indie Pop to Their Folk on 'Happy Hour on the Floor'

Happy Hour on the Floor is a considerable departure from Parsonsfield's acclaimed rustic folk sound signaling their indie-pop orientation. Parsonsfield remind their audience to bestow gratitude and practice happiness: a truly welcomed exaltation.


JARV IS... - "House Music All Night Long" (Singles Going Steady)

"House Music All Night Long" is a song our inner, self-isolated freaks can jive to. JARV IS... cleverly captures how dazed and confused some of us may feel over the current pandemic, trapped in our homes.


All Kinds of Time: Adam Schlesinger's Pursuit of Pure, Peerless Pop

Adam Schlesinger was a poet laureate of pure pop music. There was never a melody too bright, a lyrical conceit too playfully dumb, or a vibe full of radiation that he would shy away from. His sudden passing from COVID-19 means one of the brightest stars in the power-pop universe has suddenly dimmed.


Folkie Eliza Gilkyson Turns Up the Heat on '2020'

Eliza Gilkyson aims to inspire the troops of resistance on her superb new album, 2020. The ten songs serve as a rallying cry for the long haul.


Human Impact Hit Home with a Seismic First Album From a Veteran Lineup

On their self-titled debut, Human Impact provide a soundtrack for this dislocated moment where both humanity and nature are crying out for relief.


Monophonics Are an Ardent Blast of True Rock 'n' Soul on 'It's Only Us'

The third time's the charm as Bay Area soul sextet Monophonics release their shiniest record yet in It's Only Us.


'Slay the Dragon' Is a Road Map of the GOP's Methods for Dividing and Conquering American Democracy

If a time traveler from the past wanted to learn how to subvert democracy for a few million bucks, gerrymandering documentary Slay the Dragon would be a superb guide.


Bobby Previte / Jamie Saft / Nels Cline: Music from the Early 21st Century

A power-trio of electric guitar, keyboards, and drums takes on the challenge of free improvisation—but using primarily elements of rock and electronica as strongly as the usual creative music or jazz. The result is focused.


Does Inclusivity Mean That Everyone Does the Same Thing?

What is the meaning of diversity in today's world? Russell Jacoby raises and addresses some pertinent questions in his latest work, On Diversity.

Collapse Expand Reviews
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.