A Long Dream about Swimming Across the Sea
(Music Allies/Echo Mountain)
First Appeared in The Music Box, January 2008, Volume 15, #1
Written by John Metzger
Wed January 9, 2008, 06:45 AM CST
Based upon his reputation as a guitarist and the strength of his new solo effort A Long Dream about Swimming Across the Sea, Tyler Ramsey was hired by Band of Horses to replace Robin Perringer, who departed rather abruptly last October. Considering that, like many other acts of the same ilk, Band of Horses has sold it music to commercial concerns — which, in this case, are Wal-Mart and Ford — it might appear to skeptics that this sequence of events is another mutually beneficial, indie rock publicity stunt; one that was designed to boost Ramsey’s profile while also filling Band of Horses’ urgent need to plug a hole in its line-up before it embarked on a national tour. Although there may be some truth to this theory, it’s equally true that A Long Dream about Swimming Across the Sea is so wonderfully crafted that Ramsey deserves to receive every bit of attention that he can muster for the endeavor.
Songwriters, of course, long have delved into affairs of the heart and addressed their innermost feelings within their work, and A Long Dream about Swimming Across the Sea is not any different. Essentially, it serves as a single-minded apology of sorts from Ramsey to a lover who is slipping away. With its rolling undercurrent of acoustic guitar, A Long Dream, the pseudo title track that opens the endeavor, summarizes his quest for connection, and everything that follows orbits around his emotional self-reflection. There are songs about how one can become lost within a relationship (Ships) as well as how lonely a person can feel when it ends (Night Time). There are moments when Ramsey struggles with the growth and change that can push people apart (No One Goes Out) as well as those in which he just wants to wipe the memories from his mind (Once in Your Life). Although his subject matter hardly is novel, it emanates from so deep within his soul that its reverberations become inescapable.
It helps considerably that A Long Dream about Swimming Across the Sea’s musical score is impeccably crafted. Not only do the arrangements provide the perfect support for each word that Ramsey utters, but they also help to frame his changing moods. Like Jose Gonzalez, he paints portraits that linger fragilely in the air, but instead of being coldly detached, he delivers them with haunting warmth. The world that he creates is aching and vulnerable, and it is filled with heartache, sorrow, loss, and regret. He turns Jackson Browne’s These Days into a pensive, weary, and resigned examination of a failing relationship, while his mini-suite Once in Your Life moves from sad yearning to drunken determination. There’s no question that A Long Dream about Swimming Across the Sea is a depiction of Ramsey’s personal journey, but the beauty that he finds within his pained expressions is ringed by truth, which is precisely what lends the set its universal appeal. ˝
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2008 The Music Box