You know, there are just some times in life where you can feel the breath of life's quiet embrace --- this was the exact feeling I had when I first heard The Dear Hunter's newest offering, an incredible collection of work, 'Act V: Hymns with the Devil in Confessional'. This record is the kind of musical experience that I live for... exciting, embracing and completely engulfing. From the minute I hit play, I was transported to a distant world that seemed to completely shadow my current reality almost as if it was moving with me! Now you could be saying to yourself, "You just really like that record eh?" Well yes, that's the easiest answer, but to experience what I mean you have to fully soak up what's going on in the musical adventure that is 'Act V: Hymns with the Devil in Confessional' - you must let it in and take over. It's the kind of record that keeps me satiated during long stints of musical redundancy, the kind of record that makes me run faster and longer via my jogging playlists, the kind of record that makes me think! About something, about someone, about myself.. To put it plainly, this is the life blood of my auditory diet, the sparkle in the nights sky.
Now, there are some similarities that The Dear Hunter share with some of my favorite artists. One of those influences, or similarities as it were, would be the band Jellyfish and specifically the vocal tone and range of their singer/drummer Andy Sturmer. Casey Crescenzo yields that rich and powerful vocal prowess that literally pulls you in towards the music, leaving you no choice but to forge on albeit on the edge of your seat. Musically, The Dear Hunter have made a formidable experience for their listeners, full of segues and musical acrobatics. There is no technical wizardry or instrumental show-offs --- it's the tender filet' here folks, the top of the heap.
It's hard to pin down the musical genres with 'Act V,' the fifth record in a series of concept music, but in my world that is always a very, very good thing. Progressive, Symphonic, Alt-Indie... etc, etc... it can go on endlessly but at the end of the day, it's an adventurous and fantastic record.
The record starts with 'Regress,' a slow and moving gorgeous track that lasts a mere 1:22 that would seem too short except that it seamlessly transitions into 'The Moon/Awake,' a rollicking prog-rock exhibition of what you're in for... a creative and extremely musical story. The harmonies and melodies shine on this record, pulling you from one moment of deep thought to another cliff hanger of toothsome chordal ingenuity. A tender track like 'Light' shows the beautiful story telling of a father telling his son the trappings of becoming a man and what it means to make a life for themselves chance taken, mistakes made and learned from. 'The March' opens with a cacophony of symphonic destruction and piano hammering like an industrial musical theater curtain flying wide open, taking the listener higher and higher until they're left with a Radiohead-esq return to the surface. 'Blood' reminds us that we ultimately are the hardest on ourselves in this life... "I'm a killer, I'm a killer, I'm a killer, But I've been killing myself all along". The record closes poetically with 'A Beginning', a slow emergence of thought and a lovely poignant ending to a beautiful record, 'Hymns with the Devil in Confessional'.
"If I fall into the ocean,
Send my soul into the sea,
Will these reflections trouble me?
Will I dream a final dream?
Can I fall into the ocean?
Send my soul into the sea,
No distant echoes haunting me
No further phantoms will I see
This silence held eternally
The silver lining still remains,
The sights I've left to see
So trust that with this end,
A new beginning's waiting patiently."