Robert Coyne and Jaki Liebezeit have both been making waves on their own and as members of other bands over the years, but in recent years they have been paired up to produce a series of increasingly amazing albums, the third of which has come to form this year as I Still Have This Dream.
I Still Have This Dream is a stunning composition of songs with a gentle, relaxing and tender tone to them that is provided by the unique collaboration of the two – each with their own specialty propping up the other. The album hovers somewhere on the verge between alternative rock and folk rock; it walks a blurred line that simultaneously feels both minimalist and starkly grand. Each song seems to be reliant primarily on a small and simple guitar medley and eager, deeply resonant drum beats. The reality of these slim combinations is that each instrument is brought to life in a totally different light. Songs such as Cockney Mystic (the opening track) echo more of the soothing and tender guitar tunes it employs whereas a song like Ball of Light feels more like it is carried by the weight of the drum beats of Liebezeit.
That’s not to say that the music in I Still Have This Dream is sparse however; there are songs aplenty that employ deep, thrumbling bass lines like Thank You (I’ve Got the Idea). You’ll also find a mixture of cellos, violins, organs and keyboards. An eclectic mixture that is so carefully composed and mixed that it’s almost impossible to hear the same thing twice. Your second or even third listen you will somehow focus in on a sound in the background that you realised you never noticed before. Perhaps it will be the slight and trembling violin or the depth of a cello in the background but the reality is that these songs are like the proverbial gift that keeps on giving.
The other reality of course is that no matter how many layers have been interwoven, be they simple or dextrous, overt or covert, each of them is gently overshadowed by the smooth and tentative vocal stylings of Coyne. Somewhat quiet and even reserved at times his voice carries a certain weight to it, like each uttered syllable is actually something deeply personal that is being shared with you. At times there are hints of Josh Woodward within his voice and combined with a unique and indescribable lilt, his vocals breathe fresh life into his every word.
Coyne and Liebezeit are a masterful pair of musicians, each with their own specialist areas and when combined they have the power to make their music feel minimalistic and grandiose at the same time. When you can listen to a song twice and hear something different each time it becomes a real aural treat and they have this down to a fine art. I Still Have This Dream is a trendy yet understated album that will play in your mind for days.
For more information or to buy the album please visit: https://www.normanrecords.com/records/142414-robert-coyne-with-the-obscur
Review by Joe Knipe