The band Dreams and Elma Reukema exhibit a stylishness and seriousness of intent that goes far beyond what most acts are capable of. It isn’t gimmickry or hollow musical gestures making these two songs go. Instead, the fuel sustaining these tracks is distilled from a mix of vulnerability, melody, and evocative atmospherics conjured with a light artistic touch and never striking a false note. The band and singer come from two distinctly different places in our history. Reukema’s birth in the 1960’s connects her to a whole host of musical elements still standing the test of time while the members of Dreams, all born during the 1990’s, fill the songs with a distinctly modern songs that, nevertheless, recalls those eternal musical verities shaping Reukema’s youth. It’s a potent brew and has honesty few can match or imitate. Dreams and Elma Reukema touch on timeless qualities with these tracks and their unquestionable beauty will entertain and elevate anyone who hears it.
The first song, “Insomnia”, is a gently wrought look at someone dealing with the effects of the title. It certainly conjures a late night feel thanks to the ghostly drums and crystalline guitar playing, but it’s Reukema’s singing that best personifies the idea behind the song. She sounds melancholy without ever risking total darkness and expertly weaves her voice with the musical arrangement. The lyrics for this song are stronger than those of the second, but not by much, and the reason is that this is much more of a poetic take on the subject matter with beautiful imagery and a sense of patience and deliberation that gives the song a definite shape. Much like the second song, however, Reukema and Dreams remain focused on their ultimate goals and provide listeners with a performance that is both soothing and, somehow, a little unsettling in its lack of resolution for the speaker.
“You Can’t Save Me” is a much more assertive track musically, but it exhibits many of the same tendencies distinguishing the first. The electric guitar snaking through the track, offering a number of lyrical runs, is the biggest difference, but the drumming in this song has a much more authoritative bite than on the previous number. A second vocalist joins Reukema at critical points in the song and they are always well chosen, but Reukema guides most of the tune with a much more emphatic, but equally stunning, vocal. The lyrical content is much more direct here than what we hear in the first song and, thus, connects with the audience on a different level than the first track. Nonetheless, both songs are a resounding success on every level and show off a collaboration that has likely only scratched the surface of its potential. Elma Reukema and Dreams have a potent chemistry that invites listeners into the world and keeps them there for the duration of each track. “Insomnia” and “You Can’t Save Me” are among the most powerful songs you’ll hear this year.
by Scott Wigley