Understated soft rock sounds from a one-man band that hearkens back to golden eras of classic rock past.
From Cranston, RI, comes the fourth and arguably best release yet from local singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist pop wunderkind Dave Dill. Dill's ostensibly soft, understated rock sounds are painted with musical colors from a broad classic rock palette. There are hints of many musical predecessors in these lovely original tunes, from Brian Wilson to Paul McCartney to Led Zeppelin and beyond.
Dill is a musical tour-de-force on See You in the Sunshine, not only writing and producing the songs, but acting as recording engineer and playing all the instruments (including all vocals and harmonies). The results are a genial collection of melodic songs driven by an acoustic sensibility and a philosophic lyrical stance that accepts whatever curves life may have in store.
The opener "Starting From Zero" is a sweet ode to eternal conformity, "a circle that never ends", with strong hints of Brian Wilson/Beach Boy influences in the harmonies (and some Steely Dan and intriguing sonic touches as well).
"Hope You Know" is a nice melodic mid-tempo rocker about not being able to express one's love to the object of that love. To me, I hear elements of the mid-1980s, from Wings to a host of others, yet that kind of presentation works with a strong song. There's a Fender Rhodes, mid-1980s "happy feel" as well to "Along the Way", a song that confronts the difficulties encountered "along the way", that it's often hard to make it when all alone or even when supported by others. As Dill notes, "still you never know". Dill shines on both guitar accent fills and a well-executed solo here.
"Dreams" is a seven-minute song of contemplation that serves as the epic centerpiece of the album. There's a folk-pop aura to it, and a real solo McCartney feel (it's a broad piece that could well be Dill's "Mull of Kintyre"). The lyrics contain poetic musings on escaped dreams and a spiritual journey: "Sewn from the landscape / More spirit than form / And I think I see you / So sad, but there's more / You won't answer / And I won't ask you anything / If dream sold on the side of the road come true / It seems like they just might have escaped from you".
"Snow on Medway" is a lovely instrumental interlude, a minute and a half of sweet guitar as gentle snowfall. The second short interlude is a vocal play on a confession of love that shifts from confession to a more playful "You know you know" (which makes me think about the playfulness of the Beatles' "You Know My Name").
There are many facets to Dill's music. One of these is devoted to a sort of acoustic blues, as witnessed in the wistful "Light in the Canyon", wherein harmonica and sweet guitar-picking evoke visions of the south and the west.
The title song has its share of infectious riffs and harmonies, and again allows Dill to show his virtuoso skills on guitar. The song itself is an assurance of sorts that reflects some of the themes of these other songs, that we're all here together on a long road that is life, through the sunshine, the rain, even the lonely days as well.
My favorite track here is "Train is Leaving", which strongly recalls some of Led Zeppelin's sweet earlier acoustic songs. There's no vocal approximation of Robert Plant, but there's an airy jazzy feeling to the strummed guitars, bass, and percussion lines. It's another cleanly produced, intricately layered piece of pop heaven, quite literally about not wanting to be late for a leaving train (though I'm sure larger metaphorical meanings are welcomed too). There's a nice locomotive type coda as well, proclaiming "all aboard -- don't be late!"
The CD closes with "Further Up, Further In", another song of exploration and searching that has good sonic psychedelic accents, and features some harmonies (and lyrics and rich guitar licks) that recall the likes of early Yes.
With See You in the Sunshine, Dill has created a rich collection that shows more of its style with each listen. There's plenty that hearkens back to other golden eras of music, yet enough originality to stand on its own. Dill's craftsmanship, both in the songwriting and in the execution of the material, is excellent. It's a most impressive one-man show, and puts you on guard to watch for other Dill releases still to come.