FOUNDING MEMBER OF Brand New Heavies, sax and keys player, Jim Wellman, was driven to return to music through a wish to express his dissent for mainstream media propaganda and other political downers that dominate our times. The funk/fusion of Dawn To Dusk carries this message of protest in a vehicle so sleek you’d barely recognize the verbal weight if you weren’t paying close attention or if the grooves had forced you to your feet first.
If the politics is too much, there’s plenty more of substance here to keep you occupied. Wellman takes the role of multi-instrumentalist and occasional vocalist with the majority of vocals being taken by session singers Tara and Terron. This was a smart decision to enlist vocalists to deliver the lyrical material objectively. It pre-empted and dealt in advance with an otherwise possible potential emotional imbalance. As it stands, the words innocently drip from the singers’ lips like honey, as if to suggest an increasing beauty in the topics. But listen closer and you get a no-punches-pulled picture of the western social climate. ‘Happy Song’ tells it like it is with lines like “I’m not conducive, The truth’s still elusive, When media’s mentored and dissent is censored, And culture’s dumbed down to laughing at clowns”.
Some songs, such as ‘Premature Truth’ take the approach of direct narrative – “Significant change rarely comes from original ideas. Invention comes mainly from merging parts of already existing ideas in the right way. For society, truth never exists, just a hypothetical set of best practices in use that constantly changes.”. It’s all made palatable to the ear by the instrumental virtuosity that carries you through any difficult lyrical terrain. In the case of ‘Premature Truth’, you gotta love those snare ruffs and that knockout move at the 2m:06s keys solo entry where the hi-hat drops out for a moment and just sucks you into the groove.
If anything there is almost too much substance on every level. The music and political message occasionally fight for attention and both equally deserve it, but in defence of this I congratulate the willingness to hold back dramatically in order for the lyrics to make an impact on their own terms for those open to it. Perhaps a little more attention to metric syllable stresses here and there might’ve aided in message clarity, but the irony is that like the propaganda that is softly implanted in our brains by mass media, Jim Wellman uses a similar soft technique to communicate the protest. You get more flies with sugar. I appreciate that subtlety in a time when whatever protest music you do happen to hear can so clearly complain it’s rendered intolerable and unlistenable. That’s not the case here. Quite the opposite in fact. Tyranny came with a happy song today. PETER KEARNS
Music = 4/5