After moving around during childhood, a final move from Hong Kong to Los Angeles cemented the musician’s path for Mikel Rafael. Spending time in a few local bands while solo songs were written, Rafael eventually built enough of a repertoire to record and release his own project. A Sidewalk’s Dream was released in late October of 2018 with enough folk drenched mannerisms and attitudes to satisfy listeners everywhere.
The second and title track “A Sidewalk’s Dream” is a ballad type song in the classical sense, telling a narrative alongside a meandering guitar. The plucking of the strings never stops, providing a steady rhythm for the listener to walk down the proverbial sidewalk to. As the song goes on, it becomes far more descriptive and energized. While it carries a melancholy mood, the song is great to listen to. It places the listener in a peaceful and reverent place, leaving the silence that carries out the last few seconds before the next track starts hanging in oblivion between the listener and the speakers.
The closing track, “This Lilac Will Someday Mark My Grave” is much more of an upbeat sounding track. The guitar bounces around much more than in previous tracks, giving more energy to the track overall. The lyrical content can be seen as pessimistically hopeful. The story told by the words deals with death and being gone, but not before each moment of life can be enjoyed to the fullest and finding happiness in event the most depressing of scenarios.
The only detriment for A Sidewalk’s Dream is its short running length. The four tracks are wonderful for exposition; however, the EP leaves the listener wanting more. This is a problem that can easily be solved, as we can all eagerly look forward to more of Rafael’s music in the future. Fans of bands like the Magnetic Fields, Neutral Milk Hotel, Elliot Smith, Belle and Sebastian, Fleet Foxes, Dinosaur Jr., Cat Power, or the Violent Femmes will quickly find familiarities in Rafael’s music. While there are shared elements that can be seen in the works of other artists, A Sidewalk’s Dream is an utterly unique project. Listeners will be sure to enjoy the easy going styles of the EP.
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