By: Matthew Warnock
Bryan Dunn does not have a typical musician’s background. After spending time in the U.S. and U.K. as a kid, Dunn ended up in the vibrant musical mecca of Austin, Texas while working on his PhD in Physics at the University of Texas Austin. Though there are some musicians that make the transition from music to physics, such as Queen’s Brian May, few come to music from the realm of the sciences and have had the success that Dunn has experienced in recent years. Having already released one well-accepted album, and sharing the stage with the likes of Ben Folds, The Killers and Lady Gaga, Dunn is ready to release his next full-length record, Sweetheart of the Music Hall, which will be launched on April 3rd, 2012 worldwide.
As a songwriter, Dunn brings an engaging approach to his lyrical and musical content. Songs such as the opener, “New Mercedes,” are toe-tappin’, head-bobbin’ rockers that are sure to get crowds up on their feet, dancing to live shows and their home stereos alike. Though the song is full of energy and excitement, the key to its success is Dunn’s subtle approach to dynamics. Instead of just blasting away throughout the entire track, the songwriter breaks things down at key moments that draw the listener in, adding a new dynamic level to the mix and then raising things back to the previously stated “get up and dance” groove that defines the track. Moments like these not only showcase Dunn’s musicianship, but go a long way in developing a rapport with the audience at the same time.
Though not all of the songs on the record feature an upbeat, up-tempo groove, they still possess an intensity that is engaging and contagious from an audience point of view. Slower songs such as “Adeline” fall into the modern, rock-ballad genre, with a strong harmonic progression, well-sung vocal line and slower tempo, this track may not be a hard rocker, yet it is just as powerful as the faster tunes featured on the record. Sometimes a well-written and creatively arranged ballad can be just as exciting as any track featuring a harder groove, and Dunn does a good job of showcasing this approach with “Adeline” and other ballads on the record.
Overall, Sweetheart of the Music Hall is a well-written, fun to listen to roots-rock record that showcases the writing and performing talents that Dunn possesses as a musician. Though he might have the education and background in physics to fall back on if things don’t work out as a musician, after hearing this album, fans will no doubt hope that this is one artist that doesn’t need to get a day job.