Greg Dallas spent his formative years as a musician studying jazz guitar, most notably at the Berklee College of Music. After many years focusing solely on jazz, Greg realized that it was not meant to be his sole avenue of expression. As an avid listener of many genres, this skilled multi-instrumentalist began songwriting, recording and producing his own music, as well as taking up painting. The Storm is Dallas’ first venture outside of the jazz realm. This six-song EP was recorded mostly in his Brooklyn, New York apartment and at his childhood home in St. Louis, where Dallas recorded piano. Drums were recorded in Nashville by Aaron Lawson and recording engineer, Jeremy Bernstein, while lead vocals were recorded by Catey Esler in her home studio in Chicago. Thematically, The Storm tells the story of a turbulent experience familiar to most—heartbreak – and draws sound and inspiration from a wide variety of sources. Some influences include Radiohead, Fleet Foxes, and Bon Iver. The EP splits between two avenues of emotional delivery: lyrical and instrumental (there are three of the latter if I’m not mistaken). Each of the lyrical tracks on the album, which are likely to remind one of times gone by and the sonic imprint of Dallas’ contemporaries, are separated by what can best be described as “sound experiments of an ambient nature.” At times harsh, and inversely soothing, this collection of songs promises to take the listener on a poignant and surprising auricular journey.
The opening track “Time (feat. Catey Esler)” reads like a letter sent to a lover with whom who’ve just broken up with. Dallas’ words are universal, and his guitar work is quite extraordinary, while Esler’s voice is absolutely beautiful and pairs Dallas’ music perfectly. The whole song has this comforting but hypnotizing quality about it, even though the aftermath of a breakup is anything but comforting. The next track takes its title from the EP – “The Storm” has a frenzied sound, energetic and alive. The electronic sounds coming together remind me of the old arcade games when they used to malfunction. “Fallen (feat. Catey Esler and Aaron Lawson)” starts off with piano, and a hushed, rolling drum style of contemporary jazz. Here again, is a lush, gorgeously layered song, featuring Esler on vocals, and a dreamy ambient style of piano. This one kind of made me think of the lighter jazzier songs of Bjork or Fiona Apple.
“Sleep” has a more traditional ambient style to it; in the same vein I would say as Brian Eno. Dallas lets in different sounds and textures in a very natural way as if walking into a mysterious but somehow familiar landscape. If you’re into soundscape/ambient music, it’s pretty cool stuff, in my opinion. The next track once again features Catey Esler on vocals but also the voices of others. “Cold” opens up with a full and rich sounding acoustic. The musical style is like an open, inviting landscape, reminding me of the work of soundscape veterans Lanterna. Lyrically, the lyrics take a realistic view at how the loss of friends and family, or the loss of what you once had with them, forces you into a situation you didn’t ask for. The last tune “Forget” is another beautiful, rich instrumental. The music starts off with a deep humming and droning sound, where I imagine a deep-sea diver going deep into the depths of the ocean’s abyss. The sound was captivating and soothing. It felt like it was over before it started, so I had to listen to it again.
Even though the main theme of The Storm was a downer, it is something we can all relate to in life. Musically, this was a superbly written and produced debut.
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