Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Our Melody Is Strong

The hymn-like Season’s Turn on Brandon Schott’s new album Dandelion sets the tone: this is a serious album. We’re no longer in a golden state.

I likened Brandon’s previous album Golden State to summer. How appropriate then that Dandelion is set to be released days after summer ends. Thematically and musically this is a winter album – a deep winter album – yet it undoubtedly hints at inevitable spring awakening.

Its name is no accident. To Brandon, dandelions remind him of “childhood, of a certain way of seeing the world.” The beauty of floating dandelion seeds is tempered with the cold truth that it’s an unwelcome weed. The overarching dichotomy of that sentiment is conceptually prevalent throughout the whole album and despite the dangers inherent in such a heady experience through pop music, Dandelion is especially effective.

With Brandon’s expert lyrical treatment, Dandelion is never mawkish or overwrought. After listening to it for several weeks, it has driven down deep and taken root at an emotional core. Much like its namesake, the album is quiet and unassuming yet persistent in its existence. Brandon takes us on a journey through life’s unwelcome challenges in the seemingly endless search for comfort, support, and health. Recurring elemental images of earth, water, wind, and most strikingly fire ground the album in a way that makes it infinitely relatable, as do the pleas to suns and stars for celestial safety and contentment. Spiritual? Perhaps, but the beauty of such powerful music lies in our personal reaction to it.

The underlying story to Dandelion relates directly back to Brandon’s own personal battle with cancer. Many of the songs were written and recorded during or because of that experience. But Brandon avoids turning Dandelion into a private therapy session. The feelings of helplessness and hopefulness are universal and Brandon’s talents make Dandelion a thoughtful yet accessible listen.

Dandelion is deep, but don’t get me wrong; this is pop music. The album is a testament to Brandon’s ability to literally strike a chord with listeners through melody. His strength lies in the finest touches: the Lennon-esque piano of Not Far Away, the Foldsian tune of Falling Forward, the acoustic beauty of the lullaby Halo evoking the simplicity of Mother Nature's Son, the glorious string arrangements in Turning Toward the Sun, and the smoldering menace of Fire Season, which is quite likely the best composition of his career to date and worthy of its nomination for a 2009 Hollywood Music Award. Even with this elaborate attention to the smallest details, there’s something slightly raw about Dandelion – it’s rough around all the right edges.

In the end, Dandelion reminds us that despite the recklessness of life, hope and love are pervasive. Relax and sail the four winds. All will be well.


Dandelion will be released digitally September 29. A special limited edition CD will be available from his official website soon if you're looking for something a bit extra.

1 comment:

Tim said...

Damn, you write pretty.