If you needed another example of how musicians independent of the mainstream music industry continue to produce the more impressive material, the debut album from UK newcomers The Daydream Club fits the bill. Overgrown is a simply delightful collection of thoughtful songs, arranged in modest and understated ways that allow you to touch their lyrical core. The record is peppered with gentle melodies and illuminated by tender harmonies.
Singer-guitarist Adam Pickering and vocalist Paula Walker make up the group, with Pickering also contributing piano and melodica, while Walker adds glockenspiel to the mix. The duos voices blend together particularly well and are used to great effect on successive tracks. Earlier on in life, Pickering was a pop drummer, while Walker was a professional dancer. Together, they appear to have found their true milieu in The Daydream Club.
The album has a number of high points. The jazzy On The Move shows off Pickerings percussive acoustic guitar, its rhythmic feel contrasting nicely with the dream-like vocals of Paula Walker. The two elements combine to give the sense of a restless spirit being carried away. The soft vocal harmonies on Alarms Ring Out belie the songs mournful reflection on being jobless, encapsulated in the line, Ill take the good the bad the anything. Theres a beguiling mixture of sadness and hope written into the song that makes it a real standout.
The title track gets a particularly pared-down treatment, which allows sonic space for the duos exquisite harmonies. It is very much a signature song for the whole 13-track collection, speaking to a clear theme: the loss of dreams and missed goals while life makes you blindly carry on. What works especially well is the serenity of the vocals set alongside the clarity of such perceptions. On a quite different tangent, piano driven straight out of a silent movie, The Affair is pure melodrama, a brief tale of love ended by betrayal and ending in death: The love that once was is no longer there.
There are some remarkably intimate moments, from the folksy tone poetry of Be With You Always to the torch-like A Picture of You to the more oblique Touch My Bones. In The Arms of Another Day features a crystal-like Paula Walker vocal with her sidekick harmonizing in a style that recalls Art Garfunkel circa Parsley Sage. A darker, dusky dimension to Walkers vocal range is evidenced in the old time Gypsy tones of English Rain, while Square is a quite different cup of tea, a measure of folksy pop minimalism.
Like many of their contemporaries these days, The Daydream Club are biting the bullet and releasing music themselves, through their own label. This particular label is called Poco Poco Records – literally translating to “Little Little” but the band conversely should be applauded for a much bigger achievement with this album. Overgrown is a very pleasing debut. Such stuff, indeed, that daydreams are made of.