CD Review: Horace Bray - Dreamstate

An impressive debut from guitarist Horace Bray.
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For his debut album, Dreamstate, Horace Bray has crafted an impression collection of songs that play more like those of a seasoned veteran. A gifted guitarist, Bray and his band, which includes Colin Campbell on keyboards, Mike Luzecky on bass and Matt Young and Connor Kent on drums are as much about creating moods as they are nimble playing and there is ample evidence of both throughout.

The album leads off with the sister tracks "Laumeier" and "Laumeier Outro." The former blends mellow guitar leads over a high speed, intricate drum pattern from Young. Campbell's keyboard playing, both here and throughout, is tremendous and the song shows a somewhat danceable side, which is something Bray had hoped for with this release. The latter is much slower, almost dreamlike, and showcases Bray's warm guitar tone and dexterous playing. The track features wordless vocals from Hale Baskin, Allison Pointer and Josue Alan, which add color to the song, rather than stand out.

On "Living With Imperfection," Luzecky gets to shine with a bass solo. This gentle ballad gives a lot of space for the instruments to breathe and be heard. Bray takes the less is more approach here to great effect. Lush keyboards over a pulsating bass line open the song "Soothe" before the band shifts gears into a breezy, rhythmic track.  The song has a majestic feel that lives up to its name. Bray displays some fleet fretwork while allowing his band to shine, particularly Campbell, who turns in an impressive keyboard solo.

The title track is about the time when one is just falling asleep or just waking up and catches their mind wandering. Bray offers some wordless vocals in between some sophisticated musical interplay between Campbell and Young. All of the musicians are on top of their games on this impressive number. "3 4 5" begins with ringing guitars and chant-like, wordless vocals. The song is about a time when Bray couldn't play the guitar and could only do the 3 over 4 over 5 polyrhythm and showcases a pulsating guitar that pokes at the listener over lush vocal harmonies. The album closes with the gentle waltz of "Semantic Satiation." Beautiful string arrangements adorn this majestic final song.

Bray has crafted an impressive first album with Dreamstate. He achieved his goals of having elements one could dance to, while sticking to all originals and no standards, all while showcasing some very considerable chops.  The future will be a bright one for Bray.