Dylan Menzie “Lost in Dreams” (Independent, 2020)

Canadian singer-songwriter Dylan Menzie has been cooking up a storm over the past few years, picking up two nominations at the 2017 East Coast Music Awards as well as one more at the Canadian Folk Music Awards the following year. His latest album, Lost in Dreams’, is an inviting mix of vintage-tinged pop and some more classical-sounding Americana (or should that be ‘Canadacana’?).

Opening track ‘Lost in Dreams’ drifts into being with some sun-dappled string sounds, which give way to a nice rhythmical shuffle, putting you in mind of cruising along country roads. Menzie’s wonderfully clean vocal cuts through the hazy pop soundscape and pulls in all together into a brilliant opener. The top-notch production carries on throughout, giving us consistently inviting tracks. The record has a dream-like, nostalgic quality, emphasised by the retro-sounding strings, keys, and even some disco-inspired bass.

Menzie released the album in several smaller EPs before releasing the full thing. In theory, this was in order to show off the different faces of the record. The tracks ‘Spirit’, ‘Church Bells’, and ‘Have Faith’ were released on the ‘Faithful Spirits: Lost in Dreams EP’, and these are the tracks with a more overt Americana flavour. ‘Spirit’ has a big, anthemic sound, whilst ‘Church Bells’ is a really stripped backtrack, its tasteful pedal steel giving it a real Nashville flavour. After listening to the whole record, the decision to release poppier tracks separately from the folk/Americana tracks seems like an odd creative decision. As a marketing decision, maybe it makes sense, being able to appeal to die hard fans of different genres without alienating anyone, but the record has such a cohesive sound overall it seems unlikely that anyone would be put off by the genre switching. Indeed, there have been much more varied records released under a single genre umbrella. The multi-EP record might also make sense if there was some thematic variation to go along with the different sounds, which were then collated onto a larger release – but the EP tracks are mixed up into a new order for ‘Lost in Dreams’, so any sense of separate ‘parts’ of the album is lost.

Ignoring the questionable release schedule, ‘Lost in Dreams’ is a great pop-Americana record in which fans from either side of the line will find plenty to enjoy. Menzie blends authentic vintage sounds with pop appeal and down to earth, folky songwriting. A consistently good record and an enjoyable, worthwhile listen if in need of a poppy pick-me-up.

Easy breezy Canadian pop-folk with a vintage Americana twang
8/10

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