In a culture often filled with cynicism and aloofness, Doug Hoyer challenges me as he puts the heart back in its rightful place- on the sleeve.
Dream Life was released in September, and while I got the opportunity before hand to hear the tracks at many live shows and YEG music events, it has taken til now, with his freshly-begun tour, for me to write something about it. The reason (other then laziness) is really entirely to do with me rather then the album, and oddly enough it was re-listening to the album that helped me get it together and actually do this thing that I really want to do.
At risk of stating the obvious for someone with a music blog, I love music, and despite the currently less-then-regular updating, I love writing about it, love thinking about it, and love supporting it. The problem for me is that I’m also a self-loather. There tends to be a large chasm between my confidence in the validity of my ideas and the amount of respect I have for the artists I write about. I care what people think. Add to that writing about artists whom I personally know and it makes for a small internal crisis.
Right off the bat though, Doug compels his listener to let down their guard. Against an optimistic melody of strings, keys, flute and percussions he implores “Show me your heart! Thats a good start. We’re in the moment now, we wont be here for long…” Sigh. Okay Doug, fine. And while the mood is fun and light hearted, for the majority of people who struggle to be completely honest and open with their truest selves (for isn’t that the essence of the heart?) its a big ask, and Doug is right to coax us into it with his crooning.
On the second track, we are taken along on the course of an evening where the subject is anxiously preparing for a meal with his significant other and their boss. He presses his shirt and straightens his tie but still ends the night as a bit of a boozed mess. Where this could have take a turn where the partner is disgruntled at the way the evening ended, lamenting their choice in dates, the track is peppered with cute, silly whistles and the affirmation of one to the other, “Your mine, and I am yours”.
We begin to see what a dream life for Doug Hoyer looks like, and rather then cash, cars or vengeance, it looks a lot like the things a beauty pageant contestant might list: Love. Peace. Hope. Truth.
The album progresses from catchy, campy tracks to contemplative and mysterious on “Walking On a Bridge” and “Meet Me in The Pale Moonlight”. Curious as to the actual subject of the former, Doug again poses a request that it could be argued again values intimacy over comfort; “Meet me in the pale moonlight, find me in the forest green. Meet me where you don’t want to be seen.” Go where I don’t want to go? Why? For what? Theres a part from the Songs Of Solomon (super old love poem on book in ye old Bible) where the beloved comes to his bride in the middle of the night and is knocking at the door, and in modern wording her response is essentially “You mean I have to get out of bed and put on my robe?” Of course the action reaps its rewards, but lets face it, sometimes we just don’t want to walk away from our Netflix to meet our boo at that lame bar. Worth it in the realm of human connectedness, but not easy.
After a couple more tugs to the heart imagining a society free of the ugly parts of life and reminding of us of the beauty of a constant love or the impact presence can have on negativity, the album ends with the reminder that when all is said and done, time will leave us behind. Rather then undoing any hope or optimism brought forth this serves as a simple reminder that there isnt always tomorrow, and to a certain extent, we can have this Dream Life, but it requires our courage, hope and active participation.
As hinted at, this album is often lighthearted in its indie-pop vibes, drawing on the style of Jens Lekman with some elements remnant of The Talking Heads. The music matches the sincerity and simplicity imparted in the vocals, making a fantastic album to warm the cockles of your heart or to give you the encouragement to be human and be hopeful. Doug Hoyer is currently touring across Canada including a date at Sled Island, click here to see the dates.