Amen Dunes - Freedom - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Amen Dunes - Freedom

by Steve Ricciutti Rating:8 Release Date:2018-03-30

Damon McMahon, the brainchild behind Amen Dunes, loaded his plate with some heady topics on Amen Dunes’ latest, Freedom. Among them, his father, his terminally sick mother, masculinity, heroes, spirituality, childhood, and plenty of other subject material that parallels the moody yet bouncy vibe emanating from the grooves of this record. Oh, and there’s a number about a surfer, too. Given all this, it’s not surprising that this album took three years to complete. Stocked with some ace musicians and experienced producers, including drummer Parker Kindred, Delicate Steve on guitars (his playing on here is brilliant), and producer Chris Coady, McMahon manages to transform the gravitas into something that offers just enough buoyancy to keep the record from collapsing under the weight of his lyrical aspirations.

Miki Dora, the topic of an eponymous cut from the album, was a surfer back before it became popular, and his rough-edged, anti-hero persona fits in perfectly here. As McMahon describes him, he was “a living embodiment of the distorted male psyche,” and “a symbol of free-living and inspiration, and of the false heroics American culture has always celebrated.” The song, predictably, has a rumbling little surf-blues riff and McMahon’s warbling moan of a voice, sounding like Van Morrison fronting VU.

“Blue Rose,” the first full cut after the teaser “Intro,” hypnotizes you with the smoky dance club rhythm belying the content focused on his relationship with his father, “Said, you weren’t much of a man to me, but you’re the only one I’ve ever had.” On the sultry “Time,” with a bass melody that rushes through your body commanding movement, McMahon offers a line from the heart, “Jesus died. No one cried. All were saved.” This willingness to buck convention is a welcome trait. “Believe” continues the thematic thread of searching for deeper meaning amidst the search for who we are. “I believe came tonight, seen heaven, don’t get down. When I was a kid I was afraid to die, but I’ve grow’d up now.”

The ethereal “Dracula” reminds of Bauhaus with its sexy, spooky feel, “Maybe this is all. Let’s keep is short and sweet.” Closer “L.A.” joining the crowded list of songs about that city, repeats the opening admonishments of “Intro,” and offers a somber twist on this popular muse.

It seems facile to describe Freedom as haunting and poignant, but it’s also atmospheric, danceable, and above all, compelling. Truly worth a listen.


Comments (0)

There are no comments posted here yet
Related Articles
Amen Dunes - Freedom - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab
John Cale - Fear
  • 01/27/2019
  • By Kevin Orton
Amen Dunes - Freedom - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab
Nico - Chelsea Girl
  • 12/04/2018
  • By Jeff Penczak