Henry Earnest - Dream River Music Album Reviews

Henry Earnest - Dream River Music Album Reviews

The Irish musician’s spacious, shapeshifting synth pop submerges acoustic strums and babbling streams into a tender exploration of life’s inherent chaos.

An amalgamation of uncontrollable structures—weather, time, traffic, vibes—shapes our path in life. Often we may feel like agentless vessels floating down the waterway of universal causality. Dream River, a poly-genre journey into serenity and chaos by shapeshifting synth-pop musician Henry Earnest, explores the ways in which we are pulled and pushed by life’s current. Earnest, a Dubliner and a Pisces, recorded much of the album in 2020, while living in a house with artist friends in Lisbon. The production sounds like a collective effort, weaving together acoustic banjo and bodhrán (Irish drum) with spacey sound design, trap snares, and bright synthesizers. It’s a departure from the lo-fi drum loops and fuzzy samples of Earnest’s 2018 debut, When You Get Caught Between the Moon & Dublin City; with Dream River, Earnest attempts to find his own lane in a crowded field of music fusing indie rock and electronic.

Guided by the sounds of streams babbling beneath a narrator’s spoken-word recitations, the album shifts from ethereal ambient to maximalist hyperpop to folk rock. Opener “Water” establishes an experimental electronic motif as the album’s narrator asks, “Who knows where the water will take you?” The hazy ballad “‘Free’” folds banjo strums and a saxophone solo into gossamer synths. Dream River shines in this mellow, sinuous mode, but misfires when Earnest heads down a poppier path: “Wings” begins with what sounds like a gun being cocked and drops into a cloud-rap beat, a dissatisfying diversion from the previous tracks’ promise.

Singing with pitch-shifted vocals, Earnest’s voice sounds like an innocent coo embodied with a sense of nervous hope. At its best, the vocal manipulation invites comparisons to Frank Ocean or Alex G. “‘Free’” closes with a moment that feels almost explicitly Blonde-like: lo-fi, Auto-Tuned lines warbled over tremolo guitar. Yet at times Earnest’s transposed twangs have a hard time shining through weak lyrics. The hook on “Wings” starts with the line, “Words so cold make a snowman brrr,” which would be cringey even for a braggadocious SoundCloud rapper. When Earnest’s lyrics follow the established theme of surrendering to life’s chaos, his anxious delivery works perfectly. On “Hymn,” when the narrator tenderly asks you to give in to the direction of the river, Earnest sings a response: “That’s the way that everyday goes/Everyday I have no control.”

While the lyrics sometimes miss, the care and detail in Earnest’s production make the album shine. The best parts of the record are the most understated: Water whispering through tense strings on “Hymn,” a saxophone howling over drones on “‘Free,’” distant synths whirring under gentle poems on “Stand.” Even the out-of-place “Wings” finds a moment of respite as the sound of the river re-emerges over a bass synth before the song reaches its saw-toothed climax. The restraint of the instrumental breaks makes Earnest’s approaches toward maximalism hit harder.

“Stand” is a perfect example of Dream River’s ability to weave together quiet ambient moments and louder, faster-paced pop. Singing a simple but energizing melody, Earnest acknowledges his limits and his desire to push past them: “I gotta speak with my small mouth and my weak lungs.” The beat builds into a relentless chase, then greets us with dreamy filtered synths and the familiar voice of the narrator. From this underwater bliss, the song resurfaces and jumps back into a hard-hitting beat. In standout moments like these, Earnest reveals the guiding ethos of his work—carving a free-flowing path from his wide-ranging influences.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Henry Earnest - Dream River Music Album Reviews Henry Earnest - Dream River Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on March 22, 2022 Rating: 5


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