Dustin Morris is a young man who lives in Denver Colorado and one who contacted me back in the Autumn of 2011 for a possible review of his first CD release. I immediately liked Dustin for his music, his candor and sense of humor and believed this was someone like no one else existing in the pop music market of today. He doesn’t sound like a man, and I don’t mean that he sounds like a girl, rather, he has a tone and texture in his voice that is approaching a stronger, almost husky jazz voice like say, Sarah Vaughn. Up to this point I had never heard a man who sings anything like this and I was crazy for his singing! Through the past few decades of Pop and Rock music there have been men who have that distinctive high tenor range; Steve Perry of Journey, Robert Plant – Led Zeppelin, Geddy Lee – Rush just to name a few. That upper stratospheric range escapes my ability and I have always been envious. Still, after forty some years of progressive rock music I actually became tired of the high vocals and they all started to sound the same. So when Dustin Morris came along with his new original style, I was all in and had every intention to get a review going a few months ago. Ah, but we had so many things going on I literally couldn’t get to it and all the other writers were busy as well so, Dustin would unfortunately need to wait. Here just a few weeks ago, feeling guilty for having held off so long, I received a call from him and I remember thinking “ oh boy, Rolling Stone is doing an interview and he’s going to tell me to kiss it!” But no, young Mr. Morris is almost apologetic and telling me he hoped that I hadn’t started pouring ink in the presses yet. I told him that we were all ready to do the article finally but now… all of the sudden he tells me there has been a total restructuring of his plans for taking on the world of music. Enter – Lauren Gale!
Dustin and Lauren met just a few months ago, likely while I was pretending not to notice the cobwebs under my desk, but just the same they met and almost instantly decided they were going to form a duo, collaborate on their song writing, split the lead vocals and actually find a new voice for their act. Brave Song Circle was born! They started booking shows immediately and the harmonies became ever so tight, the music taking on life like the petals on a rose. It wasn’t long before they laid a plan to get back into the studio and create this wonderful new EP, Reciprocity. Both of them being “ green conscientious “ they were opposed to the idea of plastics and certain colorings being placed back into the environment so the duo designed, created and manufactured their own little bags with a draw-string to place the new CDs into for marketing. The idea has been such a smash that they can’t keep up with the orders! They sell out nearly every EP they take with them to their performances. Lauren laughed aloud when she told me that neither knew anything about making clothing or bags but they would need a sewing machine to complete the task. “But where would we get one of those? “ asked Dustin. And then of course they would have to go on You-Tube and watch videos of How To Sew! Well, this might not be exactly what this writer was told but I think it had something to do with black ski masks and raiding Lauren’s mother’s home! Well, they did get busted by mom but It sounds like Lauren’s mother has been such an inspiration to her all of her life and is very proud of what her daughter has so far accomplished. All were forgiven and mom’s old sewing machine may have just helped launch a pair of superstars!
Lauren Gale is a professional music teacher and has been so for over two years at Band Dynamics in Denver. She possesses her Bachelor of Science in Music Industry Studies from University of Colorado at Denver, which in itself would not normally make a difference to me – just because I think the greatest writers of all time were self-taught and in some cases totally blind. In Lauren’s example though, here is a young person who has all the actual talent – taking years to develop her beautiful voice and instrumental skills and becoming a very good songwriter. On top of an already great marketable package, Lauren backs it up with academics and a great head on top of her shoulders. I found her to be quite charming, witty and fun to talk to and what seems to be a perfect fit with Dustin’s personality. Neither one of them thinks that the show is all about one alone. They feel the power of their collaborations where two is greater than what either might be able to do standing on their own. And that says a lot because either one of them could make it on radio and television as a soloist I am certain.
The music of Brave Song Circle on their new release, Reciprocity (oh, many a fine definition may be found for that word!) is fresh and invigorating, though very much relaxed most of the time, though there are a few exceptions. The well-crafted lyrics interweave through a glorious texture of tone, rhythm and absolute soul. Not the old school Motown Soul, which is the only music I can dance to, but in your face, ‘deep down in the gut I just got my heart ripped out by my girlfriend and she showed it to me as she was driving away with her new lover’ kind of Soul! I know you get it, right?
I really like that Lauren and Dustin avoided the easy path of plugging in an intelligent arranger keyboard and just programmed in their chords, recorded them and sang over the top and called it a CD. Every song on this new EP has at least two real humans interacting with one another, the only studio trickery is that between these two great musicians they play eight or nine instruments and so they overdubbed multiple tracks themselves and played virtually everything you will hear all by themselves. Now for some writers it makes perfect sense to save up your money, fly to Nashville or Los Angeles and hire an “ A “ team of pros to back you up and make your song into a hit and that works well for some. But when you are capable musicians and can proficiently administer the right musical touch to the backing tracks then that is to be applauded. It worked well for The Beatles and countless other bands and songwriters to be self-reliant so it’s a great think that Brave Song Circle needs little reinforcement outside of themselves.
The songs on Reciprocity are definitely engaging and addicting, as was Dustin’s earlier release for me to listen to time and again on my mp3 player or in the car. I don’t get the feeling like I’ve heard this unique brand of music before, even though there’s this kind of familiarity from another time like back in the late nineteen-sixties when groups like Simon and Garfunkel were dominating the charts with their folk-rock harmonic delights. Certainly one can’t help but refer back to any and all male-female duets or duos in general and there exists some mighty big shoes to fill. The Band Perry and Lady Antebellum of today’s top one-hundred countdown have proven that there was a void in the country-pop crossover that needed to be filled and by all measures – including record sales and concert tickets purchased, those groups have done it with finesse, yet Brave Song Circle’s singing and harmony are as fine as any out on radio today and better than most! When they take on some of the more intricate passages like “Dream Chaser“ from the EP, about three and a half minutes into it when they sing “ It’s Gonna Be Fine “…..Wow! Rips me up and moves me as I know it (and the rest of the songs) will move you, the readers as well! This is a group which is capable, ready and willing to carve out their own piece of music history and to define their destiny, as it was that I would somehow be told by the Universe to hold off and not write that first article about Dustin – that something more beautiful and powerful was about to enter into our dimension through some sort of sacred geometry. And it is called Brave Song Circle.