26 Aug 2019

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Derek Browne - Album Review: Dreaming House

16 Jul 2019 // A review by Jason Peters

Derek Browne - the talented singer and songwriter for dDub, a roots n rock brass infused collective that dominated festivals and airwaves in previous years with successful tunes Hesitate No, Quicksand and Medicine Man, now presents us with his latest and sadly final solo album called Dreaming House.

Derek was tragically diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2018 and was told he had a matter of months to live; devastating news but through pure grit, determination and his unwavering love for music Derek set about recording what would be his departing album.

We are gifted with eight songs that are a raw, honest and poignant. These stories come from of a man not only contemplating the end of his life but also celebrating the gratitude of the time he had on this planet that he so very loved. The bittersweet position of saying goodbye to his fans, friends and loved ones with these songs must have weighed heavily on Derek, but much like how David Bowie would have known, who also recorded and then post humorously released his final album Blackstar, it is that time and your health that is indeed a precious gift.

Derek said in his final television interview that life is short and if you have a creative bone in your body don’t ever put things off for another day because that day may not be there tomorrow, and when you are facing the stark reality of that final destination everything gets stripped back to its simplest and rawest form. Derek has done the very same with Dreaming House.

Derek's songs are stripped back to his voice and acoustic guitar on this album and this forces the listener to focus on the vocals and the accompanied acoustic melodies without any other distractions. The first song Close To Me with the lyric “Sweet believer in the ocean and sea, come to me just one more time” is a catchy breezy tune and a great album opener. Snow Trail Woman is a country folk tinged number reminiscent of Bob Dylan and could easily be a parting love letter to Derek's love of nature and also his beloved wife Veronica, with the lyrics “Oh I love you, can you know, child of the mountains would you let me go.”

The title track Dreaming House is a lilting bluesy track - it showcases Derek's knack for crafting simple yet clever melodies, especially throughout the chorus, this tune is all class. Hearts On Fire picks up the pace and has an early Bruce Springsteen vibe to it, a story of two lovers that can’t sleep at night because of the sacred bond of love they hold for each other. Another stand out track is Joker On A Broken Stool with its upbeat groove and great lyrics such as “I can see you on the out takes, not a credit to your name, sleeping on the set until the crowd breaks past like a stampede silent in the pouring rain.”

Everyone Has To Go closes out Dreaming House on a sad but beautiful note. The fact is that we all must face our own mortality in the end, Everyone Has To Go is a fragile ballad that speaks volumes even as floats away into the distance.

Whilst Dreaming House is without a doubt Derek’s final ode to life and everything that was special in his, it also reminds us to never take anything in this short life for granted, the message is to go for gold and get out there and lap up everything that life has to offer while you can. Derek was a fun, kind and generous man who will be terribly missed but also cherished and celebrated for sharing his talents with us, and that love will be forever immortalised in his wonderful music.

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )

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