“The Dream” by William Maselli

Tension is undeniably one of the more important ingredients in any recipe for good, quality pop songcraft, and while I wouldn’t say that “The Dream” by William Maselli is typical FM fodder, it lives by this simple rule just the same. The last five years have seen a tremendous uptick in singer/songwriter content as well as progressive-minded surrealism, the best of which has slipped into hip-hop and country music to develop a more complete artistic identity for both genres’ most exciting young talent, but Maselli doesn’t appear all that interested in keeping up with the trends of the moment in “The Dream.” He’s both aesthetically and emotionally out on a limb in this performance, and it’s definitely a piece I would tell anyone who loves deep-thinking music to check out a lot sooner than later.

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With lyrics like “In your kiss, the stars shine paradise” and pleas to “Crucify my heart, my soul, my brain,” there’s scarcely an instance in which Maselli isn’t wearing his emotions on his sleeve, and while some players have a hard time reconciling this with a focused performance, it’s hardly an issue for this artist. When this man is connecting with the cello parts, performed by Xue Yang Liu, there’s a seamlessness to the produced harmony that can’t be replicated by those who merely front a lot of depth and skill when they’re inside of an expensive recording studio. It’s entirely organic, and yet it doesn’t suffer from the raw, jagged framework a lot of similar content does purely out of a desire to keep the frills on the sidelines. It’s in this regard that I think a lot of Maselli’s peers could learn something from this release.

The master mix is putting a lot of emphasis on balance, and for what I usually look for in modern music, this makes the melodic elements in “The Dream” even more exciting and immersive for me as a listener and a critic. Professionally speaking, there aren’t any flaws to be pointed out in the way this arrangement has been stacked together, and as a listener it feels like, while there’s an intellectualism here that is undeniable, no one is playing down to – or above – my taste. Forget the pretentiousness that a lot of talented artists possess; this is a performer putting the medium before ego in every instance.

An inviting but cryptic listen that gives us a lot to think about long after the music has ceased to play, “The Dream” by William Maselli is a curiously strong work that makes me very interested in hearing what its composer will be producing in the future. He’s not holding back from the pen here, but he’s also avoiding the pitfalls that come with chasing really ambitious projects, mostly because “The Dream” is structured around efficiency at every turn. Maselli is a very interesting artist, and if this is just a sample of what he can do in the right circumstances, I’ll be eagerly awaiting his next release for sure.

Michael Rand

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