31 May 2023

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The Loving Arms - Album Review: Dreaming Over You

01 Apr 2023 // A review by Roger Bowie

Auckland quintet The Loving Arms have released their debut album, Dreaming Over You, just a few weeks ago, after a two-year journey made longer by the conviction that better music comes from having other people in the room. Not for these guys the convenience of recording in isolation. It’s better to eyeball the creative tensions away.

The Loving Arms arise from the ashes of Ghost Town, a band which made one delightful album in 2017 and was essentially a collaboration between Mark Beesley and Jed Town. Now Mark Beesley is back with a new collection of songs and a group of musicians with impressive pedigrees of their own. You’ll also know (or ought to) Mark as a film director with a raft of well-known productions such as Savage Honeymoon and Outrageous Fortune. He also has a ZZ Top beard. Yes, that’s him, I sense you now realise.

The album is called Dreaming Over You and it is an immediately captivating experience of lush arrangements, sweet harmonies and pleasing melodies which caress and traverse the spectrum of male/female emotions and experience. These days you might call that traditional, and of course that not being in the least a pejorative, given the increasing ubiquity of the broad-church genre Americana into the psyche of Kiwi artists and listeners alike.

Mark sings like Neil Young at times, with an impressive falsetto and a raspy Willy Nelson quiver. Like an Angel in Disgrace, he falls back up to the sky and also plays piano. Dominic Blaazer complements on guitar and keys and also sings. You might know him as Daddy Dom in The Peter Stuyvesant Hitlist. He also does almost everything except post on LinkedIn. Steven Shaw plays bass and edits AudioCulture, and Bryan Shaw plays drums and edits films. Well, with that eclectic bunch of creative geniuses in play, who else would you need? Catherine Townsend, that’s who. She’s a lawyer who sings.

John Segovia (Kendall Elise) guests, as does Dave Khan (everyone), Jeffry Lancaster, James McCarthy and the aforementioned Jed Town.

Therefore, as you would expect, The Loving Arms never get into trouble, or trouble they can’t get out of, and producer Kerry Furlong has run a long ruler over a sizeable collection of songs and made the cuts that Mark might have made if this were a movie. Which means there could be another album’s worth waltzing in the wings with the Sun Going Down.

There are no weak songs on this record, only good songs and better ones and great ones, from Easy Love, to Another Day In Love, to the title track, Dreaming Over You, to the very excellent Do You, to the standout track, sung by Catherine Townsend, Still Need Your Love.

The problem with bands like The Loving Arms, which for most if not all of the musicians appears to be a side project, is how to establish a loyal following which will encourage more and more. Not to say doing an album every few years is futile, it’s just harder to achieve financially in this modus operandi. Which may not of course be the objective for there is certainly the self-actualisation which derives from a live performance to provide intangible or psychic income and that may be enough.

But for listeners like me, If This is How It Ends, it would be a grand shame, as (echoing the sentiment from Graham “Elsewhere” Reid) we could do well hearing more from The Loving Arms and in particular the voice of Catherine Townsend. Otherwise, they will be a Long Time Gone.

Rating: ( 4 / 5 )

About The Loving Arms

Auckland Tamaki Makaurau quintet The Loving Arms serve up a distinctly Antipodean take on alt-country-soul, and their audiences revel in it: they've played to adoring houses at Big Fan, Anthology Lounge, Freida Margolis and the Pumphouse, just to name a few. They've been one of Tamaki Makaurau's best-kept secrets, but with the buzz building around Dreaming Over You, The Loving Arms are fast becoming a hot ticket.

Songwriter Mark Beesley was part of Ghost Town, a collaboration with Jed Town (Fetus Productions, Features) and together they released the lauded album Sky is Falling in 2017. For The Loving Arms, Beesley is joined by Dominic Blaazer, Steven Shaw, Bryan Shaw and Catherine Townsend.

When it came to recording Dreaming Over You, The Loving Arms weren't short of material, but producer producer Kerry Furlong of Red Trolley Studios was only interested in songs that bear repeat listens. He culled (and culled), and crafted the tracks that made the cut into a defiantly contemporary yet classic space, where lap steel harmonises with synth.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for The Loving Arms


Dreaming Over You
Year: 2023
Type: Album

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