Singer/songwriter Whitebeard, formerly known as simply Alan Curtis, has been on a roll in the last few years of his career. In 2018, he cut So Far so Good to a warm reception from critics and fans alike, following up with the slightly more experimental Plaid Is the New Black in 2019. Now in 2020, he’s emerging from his latest studio sessions with a new single in “Dream of Me” that’s stirring up much of the buzz he’s been enjoying in recent times – with a pinch more attention from the mainstream. “Dream of Me” is a passive rock tune in the style of “D’yer Mak’er,” but it’s anything but a throwback to 70’s crossovers. Here, Whitebeard keeps the big beats coming at us alongside melodies worth their weight in gold, artistically looking ahead to the future more than he ever does the past.
The mix in this track creates a wonderful juxtaposition of the vocal and the percussion, and in doing so, affords additional definition to the other components in the song that just wouldn’t have been present here otherwise. The bassline is tucked in between the ridges in the drumbeat, and had it not been given a little extra oomph, I don’t know that we would be able to appreciate the texture it lends to the harmony. The reverb on the guitar is wet but not excessively dominant, and because of the conservative arrangement of the string parts in “Dream of Me,” there’s scarcely a moment where Whitebeard’s voice isn’t the most endearing feature in the song.
As expressive as the vocals are here, the harmony they form with the instrumentation is the bread and butter of the mood in this material. Whitebeard has been careful about spreading himself too thin with his compositional style in the past, but in “Dream of Me,” I think he lets his hair down in a way that lets us appreciate his unguarded side more than we could have before. He’s got so much to share with his audience, and if we’re to take anything away from the maturation he’s demonstrated between Plaid Is the New Black and this new single, it’s that he’s not going to stop experimenting with technique until he finds his perfect method for melody-making.
If this is just a sample of what the next chapter in the Whitebeard story is going to look and sound like, “Dream of Me” and its fun-loving music video are the start of a new age of excitement for this Canadian powerhouse. Unwilling to his conform his craft to the mainstream establishment, Whitebeard cultivates a musicality that doesn’t ask a whole lot out of listeners in exchange for a wealth of sonic treasure in songs like this one. He’s setting a good example for young indie players just now starting out on their own road to stardom, but more importantly than that, he’s keeping the flame of anti-commercial singer/songwriters alive when we need it most. I’m a fan of his efforts, and I doubt I’m the only one.
by Bethany Page