Micah Dalton – Blue Frontier

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Always put the time in to get the vibe you want. Always.”

Such was a recent Facebook post from Micah Dalton, and if my thoughts on his recent release, Blue Frontier, could be summed so succinctly, that would be it.  But then I’d be left without more to say.

Each song on this CD has the feel of being pored over, and he’s had enough time to do just that.  Perhaps it’s the input of working with..DSC_0004. a quick count says 13... co-writers.   Perhaps its  the four years since his last full release, Pawnshop.  And, perhaps, it’s the challenge of moving beyond the cleverly constructed concepts of that CD to “whatever comes next.”  

The recent concert I attended upon the release of this CD could be summed as “catchy and pleasing.”   Now with the benefit of many listens, that easily applies to the CD.  In fact, tracks 1-10 are probably as consistently good songs as anyone could find on a single CD.  Whether its Silk Degrees, Rumours, or (pick your own 70’s favorite), there’s consistent quality across this work that only lacks radio familiarity.  In the days when radio stations allowed DJs a measure of freedom and ample opportunities for album “deep cuts,” Blue Frontier could have been a “go to” album.  It’s that good.  And as  almost every song measures 3 minutes – something, it could fit about any programming need.

But that was then, and this is now.  And “now” would benefit greatly from songs like these on the air.

Dalton reportedly describes his music as alt.soul.   There’s certainly a soulful element, both in the music and his voice, but despite elements from here and there, it’s easier to point to Dalton’s abundant song writing abilities.  Structurally, the transitions from verses to refrain are seamless, and the surprises thrown in (perfect changes of pace, a casual clarinet, a wicked slide guitar) brings each song into its own... Pored over.  

Lyrically, Dalton isn’t afraid of awkward phrasing (“Another Discovery” as a refrain), more advanced diction than one might expect in fairly breezy tunes, and, most importantly, a positive, hopeful approach to any subject.  Commitment in a relationship means something to Dalton, whether in good times or bad.

Foibles?  If the vibe of each song is measured perfectly, the vibe for the collection drops off with “Eyes to See, Ears to Hear.”  It’s a good song.  But it has the sound of a technical challenge to write something out of his comfort zone, and it happens to not mesh with what comes before.  Additionally, Dalton’s falsettos are valued nuances in many of his songs, but they don’t carry major sections as well.

Also, the sonics of the album narrow a bit to what I can only describe as “compressed.”  To my ears, the brass doesn’t sound freely, and the bass lacks a deep low end.  

Again, foibles.  This is a great CD, and worthy of a large audience.

Suggested Tracks: “High and Low,” “The Way Our Seasons Change,” “Bad Blood,” “More Than the Magic”

4 of 5 copy

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