July 16, 2018 Eisley – I’m Only Dreaming…Of Days Long Past (Album Review)
Initially formed over two decades ago, Eisley is a band mystical in many ways. Fitting in the realm of Indie Rock, their sound and approach to songwriting has never been limited. They have Country influenced tunes such as 2005’s “I Wasn’t Prepared,” the Dream Pop “Invasion” from 2007, as well as the sophisticated Indie Rock “Smarter” from 2011, plus much more. That is why it truly is impossible to tuck them into a box under one title. Their sound is too diverse, yet still, it has the Pop sensibility that has kept them rightfully recognized in the mainstream world through the years.
Taking their vast talents to the next level with each record they put out, 2017’s I’m Only Dreaming would be their fifth overall LP, but it also marked the first without four original band members. Leaving only cousins Sherri DuPree-Bemis (vocals/guitar) and Garron DuPree (bass) remaining, together with Producer Will Yip, I’m Only Dreaming took shape as eleven strong songs – making the transition into a new era for Eisley seamless.
Melodic and full of depth, I’m Only Dreaming is equally mature as it is an emotionally satisfying listen. As always, the guitars emerge at the forefront of each song, projecting irresistible melodies with an atmospheric tone. Sometimes distorted, offering a heavy texture to the music, other times clean and spacious, the guitars not only offer a colorful backdrop to DuPree-Bemis’ songbird singing voice, but also stand strongly on their own.
That all in mind, Eisley’s compositions always led themselves to other interpretations rather than with just a fully electric ensemble. That is where their latest album I’m Only Dreaming…Of Days Long Past comes in. Set for release on Friday, July 20 2018, through Equal Vision Records, the new release is the flip side of I’m Only Dreaming. In fact, it is a completely acoustic rendition of the prior album… with it’s own twist.
In many cases, acoustic records are almost mirror images of the original electric performances, but this is Eisley, there is bound to be something different in between the lines. True to form, Eisley do a delightful job of taking the original tracks, making subtle changes to the arrangements, and translating them into a new track list that acts as a stand alone record. Sure, they are the same songs, but they really do sound uniquely different. Coming almost a year and a half after the release of I’m Only Dreaming, hopefully, by now, most have already heard these songs – it would be a disservice to Eisley if not! Even still, without any prior listen to the original record, I’m Only Dreaming…Of Days Long Past could easily be played, absorbed, and enjoyed just the same.
DuPree-Bemis’ voice is mesmerizing as always – just listen to her performance on “Defeatist” and “A Song for the Birds.” Speaking of “A Song for the Birds,” the latest rendition acts as the lead single off the new album. Here DuPree-Bermis’ singing is more reserved, yet no less powerful. She then digs deep into her soul further on other songs such as “Rabbit Hole” with an emotive tone that could bring nearly anyone to the verge of tears. Then the magic of overdubbing brings “Louder Than a Lion” to life in a magical fashion. This is while the simplicity of dueling piano and voice resonates with “Snowfall.”
There is plenty of music to get lost in with I’m Only Dreaming…Of Days Long Past. The re-imagining of the tracks from I’m Only Dreaming are both breathtaking and entrancing. Minus the distorted guitars, it is a more organic approach that gives you a new perspective on each song. Moreover, there is new light shed on the growth of Eisley as songwriters. There is no buffer between them and the audience here. Most layers of sound have been stripped back, baring each song’s soul more freely. As mentioned, familiarity with I’m Only Dreaming would be ideal, but it really is not completely necessary to be taken in by I’m Only Dreaming…Of Days Long Past. Difficult to find any flaws, CrypticRock gives this album 5 out of 5 stars.