Byron Lee Scott’s Harmony Dreamers Release New Music

Byron Lee Scott’s Harmony Dreamers project is an assemblage of singers and musicians from around the world selected by Scott for this project. The composer’s avowed intent behind these songs is to produce a positive collection that even children can enjoy without encountering questionable material and songs affirming music’s redemptive powers. I Come from Earth, as well, has a broad musical foundation drawing deeply from several different styles. He has drafted musicians and singers as comfortable with funk as they are pop, neo-soul, and even rock. Scott doesn’t restrict himself here and it results in a memorable musical event.

This review concedes it may be difficult for listeners to involve themselves deeply with this album after a single listen. There’s a wide variance in material – the humor in the lyrics and delivery of the opener and title song “I Come from Earth”, for instance, isn’t as overt in other tracks. The title song goes for broke musically, however, without ever overstepping its mandate. The Harmony Dreamers release isn’t about ballyhooing the virtuoso skills of its participants, and the label certainly applies in some cases, but instead providing listeners with fully realized songwriting and musical experiences.

The second track “Pass It On” is much more relaxed and not as daring, but those aren’t slights. Scott’s intentions for this song are more focused on the lyrical message than before. It carries more weight rather than functioning as close to pure entertainment. The economical yet expertly woven arrangement powering the song is one of its highlights. “Sophie and Pearl” is an unexpected jewel whose shine may be a little lost on listeners at first, depending on their ages.

Scott announces the song’s subject at the beginning and the song’s playful mood is apparent. It isn’t often that you hear a musician/songwriter so willing to embrace outright joy as he does here and find pleasure in examining the simplest, deceptively so, of relationships. Any feelings of cheering to the song being a guilty pleasure evaporate fast. Glistening synthesizers solidify into a bright and pulsing groove for the song “No Stopping” and the only thing marring an otherwise outstanding track is the vocal mix. Many listeners will long for Scott to bring the vocals further up as distance dilutes an otherwise marvelous singing performance. The arrangement might sound plodding in other hands, but the Harmony Dreamers Project avoids that.

Irish and Nigerian bass players, singers from Europe, South America, and the United States, as well as percussionists from Spain and beyond, come together to make such tracks as the “The First Song Suite” and the multi-part follow-up “Spinning ‘round the Sun” compelling. Scott’s songwriting talents are on full display with this track as he breaks the three parter into appropriate sizes that listeners can digest. Tracks such as “Summertime Memory” have great mixes that bring their vocal harmonies to life without ever overwhelming listeners. There’s a plethora of musical treasures for listeners to plunder from this release and plenty to keep you coming back for more. 

Michael Rand  

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