Wednesday, 26 February 2014

EP Review - I Remember When This Was All Trees

I Remember When This Was All Trees
by My Private Dinosaur
(out now!)

A week or so ago I was booked in to see My Private Dinosaur play their new EP live. Unfortunately due to sickness I didn’t attend. So instead here is a review of their new EP I Remember When This Was All Trees.

But first a little about this relatively new outfit. My Private Dinosaur is the brainchild of singer songwriter Dave Havea. Joining him in this project is pianist Josh Cohen. To complete the sound is Yiorgo Sgourakis on bass and Selwyn Cozens on drums. The EP was recorded in 2013 with producer Colin Leadbetter (who has worked with quite a few top quality artists such as Ester Holt and Whitely in recent times). The end result is an EP that is easy to listen to, laid back with sparks of beauty and much heart.

The title track opens the EP, 'I Remember When This Was All Trees'. Gorgeous 60s inspired keys lead the song and feature throughout as a cradle for the smooth vocal styling’s that Havea brings. Here is a taste of the opening beautiful lyrics: “Remember when this was all trees? The grass grew so higher it swayed in the breeze and nothing could be said for sure when time knocks so softly on some distant door, now long ago so far gone I wallow in memories I wait til the dawn, and pray for a dream to begin, escape from the nightmare that we’re living in”. The lyrics are moody with the kind of mystery I want to unpack with more than a couple of listens. The keys are expertly featured in this song – never overshadowing the vocals – yet somehow shining just as bright. This track was a nice start to the EP.

‘Nothing Left to Lose’ is the second track in. It’s another ballad – this time with the addition of some gentle guitar lead and simple yet effective drums. The intensity behind the song itself here is a gentle yet rousing one. There are some gentle harmonies peppered throughout that add another layer of depth to the sound. The keys have a few moments to hit the high notes in a sweet little ray of light - as does the guitar. This track reminded in its journey of the more acoustic music of Ben Harper with Havea’s voice possessing a similar quality of intimacy in its delivery and tone.

I would suggest turning the lights down low for the third track when you listen to it. ‘Song for a Lover’ is the kind of track you slip on after you’ve slipped into something more comfortable and move on in closer to the one you love. This song is one of my favourites on the EP with its sweet and playful intent to make that special someone in your life understand how much you care. The elements really flow together well in this song – the harmonies, the build halfway through, the heart in the lyrics and the soar of Havea’s pipes. It all really hit the right spots. In the 90s I was a bit of a Lenny Kravitz fan – mostly for his slower smoother tracks as opposed to his faster rock tunes. This song has the same affect on me. I was left wanting to hit the replay button on as it left me feeling so good.

The last track on the EP is a hopeful, optimistic and upbeat song called ‘All the Better’. There is something familiar about this song that I can’t quite place. But perhaps it’s just the sweet softness I feel listening to it that really lights my heart. There is a throwback feel with the percussive jazz turn a rounds played on the piano and the groove that gentle rocks the body. Easy listening music can easily enter the waters of tackiness if not handled with careful skill, but with this track I had no worries of any sense of cheese entering the picture. This is smooth and easy listening music at its best – expertly laid for our listening pleasure.

The sound that My Private Dinosaur creates had me thinking of 60s music – in particular motown ballads. Havea has a distinct quality to his voice that reminds me of a mix between legends Al Green and Bill Withers. Not a bad combination to be reminded of! This music is reflective and poetically driven with interpretation up to the listener. And it’s the voice of Havea that glues it all together.

I would say that this album is a top choice for a dinner party, late night conversations or perhaps a quiet Sunday afternoon. I really look forward to hearing more from My Private Dinosaur in the future.

Lou Endicott gives 'I Remember When This Was All Trees' four Michael Hutchence heads out of five....

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