Dan Smyth: ‘Eye Dream’
Smyth has made a unique and singular record
Fort Wayne musician/songwriter Dan Smyth has made a name for himself as a member of Fort Wayne staple The Legendary Trainhoppers and as a solo musician. As part of the Trainhoppers collective, he works within that group to make jangly Americana pop. But when Smyth writes for himself, the sound is much different. There’s more of an outsider pop vibe going on with touches of Dr. Dog, Toy Matinee, and Warren Zevon. Recording and collaborating with Jason Davis at Off The Cuff Sound, his songs have a lived-in warmth to them.
Smyth has returned with an all-new LP, Eye Dream. Once again working with Davis, the sound is darker and more mysterious. The music still carries Smyth’s knack for catchy melodies and grooves, but Eye Dream is less about pop songs and more about experimental sounds and art rock touches. This is an artist laying it all out, just going for it. Eye Dream sounds like an album Smyth has been wanting to make for years.
You know we’re in for a completely unique journey with opener “Night Heron,” with its bass-heavy low end and dream-like synths. It’s an instrumental track that sets the bar pretty high. “When It’s Real” wavers in an almost dream-like world with Smyth’s voice covered in delay as acoustic guitar and ghostly harmonies lay just under the surface. I’m reminded of My Morning Jacket, in particular their tour de force Z. Smyth goes for more esoteric sounds here. He’s not afraid to take the sonic touches to another level.
Elsewhere, “Outer Space” has an almost Oingo Boingo sound with Smyth going full Danny Elfman. Bass plays a heavy part of Eye Dream’s sound, at times getting into dub territory. The lightest touches were saved for closer “Light.” Woodwinds, brass, and touches of ’60s psychedelia intermingle with big drums and synth colors that give us something reminiscent of ’60s garage rock mixed with ’70s krautrock with a heavy pop lean in the vocals.
Smyth has made a unique and singular record in Eye Dream. It’s the kind of album where you hear its eccentricities and they’re worn proudly on the artist’s sleeve. Eye Dream is the album he was born to make.