Not many people make albums that are right for every occasion. Albums that fit a range of moods as they flit across the dynamic range, hop the generic fences and offer a fluid journey through emotion and feelings. Albums like that really defy easy pigeon-holing and it is albums like this that I love. Why master one sound or style when you can explore and cross-pollenate many. It’s a reason to love Dick Aven’s record’s because that is exactly what he does.
Right from the opening strains of Do What I Say, you realise that you are in very interesting territory, flute and sax assisted bluesy territory, sort of, skittering along on a wonderfully off kilter beat and somehow tipping its hat to many musical scenes and eras all at the same time. As calling cards go, it definitely gets you hooked and prepares you for a wonderfully original journey through his very unique musical world which continues immediately with Drowning In Moonlight and a brilliant blend of classic singer-songwriter grooves, gang vocals and a slightly New Orleans undertone.
That same hot and sleazy vibe can be found on Your Love, another blast of Deep South jazz groves but this time driven by some latin rhythms, music that seems to be from the south of every border you can imagine…south of the Mason-Dixon Line, south of the Rio Grande and then picking out on a host of grooves and beats all the way down to the southern tip of the American continent as a whole. Answers has an almost European sophistication to it, not that I’m saying that non-europeans aren’t sophisticated but it is a folky, acoustic vibe that seems to sum up the sound of a 60’s coffee shop that has one entrance on to the streets of Greenwich Village and the other that looks out onto the Parisian banks of the Seine…with at least one window looking out onto Ladbrooke Grove’s smutty streets.
Return of The White Stoned Cowboy is a gentle jazz jive put to a lazy reggae beat, In September has hints of the same wonderfully deft (and indeed deftly wonderful) sonic lines that made James Taylor such a great writer and Honey is a sweet and lilting thing that is a neat little pop tune but in the grand scheme of things is a pop song with a PhD…ie, way smarter than the usual transient tunes that falls into that category.
I can’t claim to understand Dick’s writing method but I’m guessing that the wonderful variety from one song to the next across this fascinating album comes from the fact that songs, melodies, hooks and rhythms are all instigated across a constantly shifting range of instruments meaning that the starting points for any two songs are never the same. Whatever the process the result is glorious. Not only music made on a wide range of instruments, music which seems to find its inspiration in many different genres and styles garnered from across the world, but for all the familiarity of those component sonic building blocks the end results sound amazingly unique, refreshingly cool and totally imaginative. How does he manage to do that? Actually, I’d rather not know, let’s just keep a little bit of magic live in the world.