Release Date: Oct 11, 2011
Record label: Dangerbird Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, Alternative Singer/Songwriter
Dreams can be pretty crazy things. The late, great comic Mitch Hedberg said he didn’t like dreams because, “there I am, laying in my comfortable bed in my hotel room…next thing I know, I have to build a go-kart with my ex-landlord.” Dreams have the power to take you to unusual and unexpected places. Some of the best and most memorable are strange and jump around to weird surprises that are always exciting.
Recorded and self-produced at his Laurel Canyon home studio, Australian singer/songwriter Ben Lee's eighth studio album, Deeper into Dream, lives up to his recent claims that his days of "chasing alternative hits" are over. Indeed, other than the driving grunge of the contemplative "Get Used to It" and the Flaming Lips-esque alt-pop of "Pointless Beauty," little here is likely to trouble the ARIA charts in the same manner as 2005's commercial peak, Awake Is the New Sleep. Instead, the former Noise Addict frontman has come up with his most personal and darkest album to date, which, inspired by three years of dream analysis therapy, attempts to understand the power of the unconscious mind.
Ben Lee’s new album Deeper Into Dream starts with a spoken-word track that seems to establish just how literally we’ll be venturing “into dream” over the next 45 minutes. Various voices, mostly Australian, reveal the content of their dreams, both mundane and fantastical. And on the title track that follows, Lee offers up a kind of mission statement: “Have you ever woken from a dream and convinced yourself you remember it / In the morning?” Setting an album up like this, as if to say, “Hey, guys, we’re heading into concept album territory here”, is a great little technique—see Janelle Monae’s stunning treatment of The ArchAndroid of yesteryear—but only if you actually follow through with a concept album.
For his eighth album, singer-songwriter Ben Lee, inspired by his work with the late psychotherapist Jan Lloyd, turned to his subconscious for material, and made the record himself (his first outing as a producer) in his Laurel Canyon home studio. If this preamble has listeners heading for the exit on the grounds of “insufferable solo artist narcissism,” they’d be reassured to know that Lee’s amiability, charm, and solid folk-pop instincts counterbalance the potential solipsism of the set-up. The set of 12 tunes explores the flight of ideas and revelations available to people in their dreams, with lyrics that make continuous reference to nocturnal imaginings.