Posted on March 14th, 2014 (11:00 am) by Ashley Pike

You may know Dean Wareham from his work with his wife, Britta Phillips as Dean and Britta. You may have also heard Wareham as part of the dream pop outfit Luna, or his first band, Galaxie 500. Later in 2013, he released an EP debuting some of his solo material, and is now following up with his self-titled, debut LP. His solo sound is a bit like Willie Nelson meets Belle and Sebastian meets The National. Does this combination makes sense? Not really. Not yet. However upon listening to Dean Wareham, the combination will make sense, and you too will be immersed in the alternating heavy and light, pop and rock, and a few things in between.

"The Dancer Disappears" opens Dean Wareham as a pretty little ditty. Fans will be familiar with Wareham's voice, soft and pleasant, which offers a gentle contrast to the layered heaviness of the drum and guitar. "Beat The Devil" transitions from the previous track, using a keyboard riff that almost sounds like bells chiming, giving the track more of a folk pop feel. Contrarily, "Heartless People" has more of a bluesy vibe, with Wareham's vocals standing out as twangy yet subtle. There's even a steel guitar offering it's doleful moan in the background.

"Love is Not a Roof Against the Rain," as the title hints, is essentially existential crisis mixed with a love song: just a little melancholy steel guitar to make you want to stare longingly out the window with the glass of brown liquor. At this point in the album, you may begin to wonder if Dean Wareham is going to be ten-tracks worth of sleepy sadness. However, "Holding Pattern" features some rocking saxophone a killer electric guitar, paired with a grittier take on his voice, and it takes the tone of the album up a gear. "Babes in the Wood" takes everything back down to a milder tempo, with a lazy, almost sexy sounding guitar. It develops a lo-fi buzz about halfway through to roughen up the edges of an otherwise smooth tune, eventually tightening up at the end. "Happy & Free" and its accompanying remix by My Morning Jacket's Jim James close out Dean Wareham, using some humming to set the tone. If humming isn't your thing, just bear with Wareham: the track transitions into a lazily lovely tune punctuated with drums and synth, leaving you feeling chilled and content, even if the song goes on for two minutes too long.

Wareham may have made a large mark on his genre through his more subtle work, whether it be through collaborations with his various bands, or by scoring the soundtracks to films like The Squid and the Whale. However, his work on this solo release shows that he is not by any means afraid to step out in front and showcase his own talents. Dean Wareham showcases many different layers of music, from energetic rock to almost lethargic blues to bright dream pop. Fans of his previous work are sure to enjoy some familiar sounds, while regaling in the freshness of his new material.

Track List:

  1. The Dancer Disappears
  2. Beat the Devil
  3. Heartless People
  4. My Eyes Are Blue
  5. Love is Not a Roof Against the Rain
  6. Holding Pattern
  7. I Can Only Give My All
  8. Babes in the Wood
  9. Happy & Free
  10. Happy & Free (Jim James Remix)*

    *Available on iTunes

Dean Wareham self titled
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

78 / 100
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