Welcome to Dreamfield
First Appeared at The Music Box, April 2000, Volume 7, #4
Written by Michael Karpinski
Never mind the fancy "fine wine" metaphors — it is an all-but-indisputable fact that some things do get better with age. Many are the musical artistes who fail to achieve the recognition and respect they deserve until well after their biological clocks have ticked past the "6." While a select handful burn bright early, fizzle into oblivion, and then come bursting back (Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana), the vast majority toil in nameless obscurity — whether supporting "established" acts as faceless session players or endlessly peddling themselves in every Tom, Dick, and Harry honky-tonk from Fargo to Fresno. With Welcome to Dreamfield, veteran Orlando singer-songwriter Jill Towers seeks to free herself from this latter camp and stake her claim for at least some small sliver of the spotlight.
As sculpted with the able assistance of co-producer and multi-instrumentalist Steve Morris, Towers’ sound is a relatively effortless melding of countrified rock and adult contemporary music. Rampant comparisons to Dreamboat Annie-era Heart do only partial justice to the sonic collage: Mix in equal bits of Bonnie Raitt-smokiness and Shania Twain-slickness and you begin to get the bigger picture (indeed, Dreamfield’s blues-infused It Makes Ya Crazy could be a hit for either of those artists). The straight-ahead rocker Only One could just as easily be covered by the Go Go’s as by Melissa Etheridge, and the alternately acoustic/electric slow-burn of Best Dance seems ready-made for latter-day Plant and Page. Towers’ powers of musical fusion are at their sharpest on the smoldering Didn’t Wanna Stay and the shimmering, ’70s-style lullaby Too Late — the latter replacing Raitt and Twain with Helen Reddy and Toni Tennille. Alas, nothing can save the overblown, Hans Zimmer-meets-Lita Ford In Trouble Again or the generic-to-the-point-of-parody Travelin' the Road. Likewise, only the sturdy songcraft and relentless momentum of Art of Deception allows it to surmount its grievously cheesy synthesizer line.
Artistically-speaking, Jill Towers’ sound doesn’t exactly break new ground, but the ground she does cover is plenty fertile and plenty firm. So never mind the fancy "fine wine" metaphors — Welcome to Dreamfield was never intended to be ingested like some meek Merlot — more like a slam of neat tequila with an American beer-back.
At just 43 years of age, Jill Towers isn’t so much a dinosaur in today’s teenybopper-dominated music market as she is a fossil. The good news is: Fossils get found; you just have to be willing to dig a little. Welcome to Dreamfield certainly deserves to see the light of day. More importantly, it deserves to be heard.
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2000 The Music Box