The album Awareness is drenched in Dylan – both the music and lyrics. One can feel that for Roy, Bob Dylan is an optimal reference point. At the same time, the artist makes his own impact on these melodious and neatly arranged songs.
This is Roy Einar Dreng’s second vinyl album. The Norwegian songwriter
has for years been fascinated with Dylan. Not only has Ray started ‘My
Dylan, your Dylan’ project, but has also many times participated in
Dylan Festival Beitostølen or other events dedicated to this American
bard. Listening to Awareness, one can definitely tell that Roy knows
the song of this Nobel prize laureate like the back of his hand and
easily refers to fragments of Dylan’s lyrics.
Those who appreciate ‘Blood on the Tracks’ and the violin in ‘Desire’
will surely love this album. The sounds on ‘Awareness’ bring to my
mind these very two classics from the mid 70s. Here you will find the
power of acoustic guitars, section playing confidently and a
suggestive atmosphere built with violin and harmonica (Friends
actually do make a difference) – and Roy’s voice warning from the
disaster that the world is speeding into (even in „Iron Clouds” one
can hear him singing „Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall”). There are plenty of
dangers: the polluted environment, divided communities, and more and
more radical politics.
All this convention fits in perfectly with the great topos that Dylan
believes in. After all, he himself started with expressing respect
towards e.g. Woody Guthrie, and in his later records he has many times
mentioned his masters and friends, referred to them, quoted them and
reminisced them… And at the same time, he warns and sounds the alarm
like a preacher.
But „Awareness” is by far not a reproductive album. It’s a collection
of 12 amazing songs filled with melancholy and critical view on the
contemporary world. The record opens with the strong „Mean Old
Twister”, in „Fish Farm Nightmare” you can feel a breeze of nostalgy
and beautiful melody, and an ear used to Dylan’s music will catch echo
of the song „He Was a Friend of Mine” in the ballade „Hannah”.
The cover seems to supplement the music perfectly – a bit ominous,
gloomy but at the same time intriguing in its rawness. But the record
also contains some more vivid themes. Just listen to the rhythmic „The
Riversong”, Clapton style „Free Lunch” or “Take the train” arranged in
the rhythm of a speeding train. On the other hand „The Black Wind” has
a more folk touch to it and it takes us to some God forsaken town of
the Bible Belt.
As the publisher says in liner notes: The melodies on this album are a
swampy, ragged mix and you can „taste” the blues, the latino, the dead
mans waltz. Even the small village church is present.
The album has been released in a stylish gatefold, produced and mixed
in Vestfold Lydstudio. The warm sound emphasizes the album’s character
giving it a selective tone with a wide range of acoustic sounds. I can
honestly recommend this album to all who not only enjoy Dylan music,
but also look for good melodies, elegant sound and insightful lyrics.
In Poland the record is distributed by Chodzą Słuchy Records shop..
Soon we will invite you for an interview with Roy Einar Dreng.