In his solo debut as Mauri Dark, Mystons’ own Mauri Kosonen delivers what I would deem his most profoundly moving work to date in ten fantastic folk songs ala Dreams of a Middle-Aged Man. Dreams of a Middle-Aged Man is built like a traditional folk record, but upon closer inspection its contents are simply too progressive in nature for me to describe it as non-conceptual. In songs like “Chains of Solitude,” “Love Will Prevail” and “Hymn for a Wanderer,” Mauri Dark takes us into his world without any filtration to come between his story and the audience, and for an audiophile like me, an opportunity to go deep with an artist of this caliber is too great to resist.
There’s a dark element to “Shades of Gray,” “Thin Line of Understanding,” the title cut and “Worst Enemy” that would be almost unbearable were someone else at the helm of the harmonies, and for some Mystons fans, this might come as a bit of a surprise. Mauri Dark is, at its core, a purge device in Dreams of a Middle-Aged Man, and whether you interpret the LP as a confessional from Kosonen or a document designed for us to expel frustration within, it’s nonetheless an intense and immersive listen.
The depth behind the melodies in “Poison Woman,” “X-Renegade,” “Chains of Solitude” and “Up to Us” is something I really want to hear more in future releases from this artist, and preferably in an experimental stylization. There’s still a lot of emotion that Mauri Dark is only flirting with in this early effort; with the right time and space to cultivate his lyrical technique and harmonization skills just a bit more, there won’t be any stopping the kind of tangible output this player is going to be putting out.
“Love Will Prevail,” “Thin Line of Understanding” and “Poison Woman” could have made for an amazing EP all on their own, but when coupled with the rest of the material here it’s rather surprisingly that Dreams of a Middle-Aged Man hasn’t gotten more love from the mainstream press this season. There is definitely enough appeal and name recognition to acquire some airplay among discriminating metal fans with a taste for the acoustic every now and again, but more importantly, I would go so far as to call this one of the more passionately made alternative folk LPs to hit record store shelves this year.
At once both familiar and foreign in every department, Dreams of a Middle-Aged Man is easily one of the most memorable albums I’ve listened to in the latter half of 2020 and a record that I believe to be the start of something really beautiful for Mauri Dark. He’s already got quite a persona down for himself with the release of this monolithic debut, and provided he sticks with the same kind of a script he’s working off of for the performances in this LP, I don’t see him losing his momentum as 2020 transitions into 2021 and beyond.
by Bethany Page