Michael Veitch’s Wachtraum (Days Of Dreams) is a lovely folk record with a few pop puzzle pieces played to perfection. And it’s a concept album with songs that cover the seasons of the year.
A few comments by my, friend, Kilda Defnut:
“This album touches several constellations in the dark night sky”.
“Sometimes, pop music can have the deep melodic folk root of a hopeful busker”.
“This music wears biblical Joseph’s “coat of many colours”.
That said, and thank you, Kilda, this record flows through the sundry seasons – seasons with sounds that course through various moods of weathered emotions. The first song, ‘First Day’, conjures a blissful memory of 70’s acoustic folk magic. It’s mystical, dark, and melodic. January is that two-faced deity of reflection and expectant hope. The song hovers in those gray clouds. Then, ‘Valentine’s Day’ is upbeat and pushes the pop-o-meter needle into much radio friendlier climes. This one is smooth, passionate, and graced with Hallmark greeted lyrics. Bu, I suppose that’s the point. And Michael gets to open the throttle on his (really nice) falsetto. Next is ‘Moving Day’ which bleats its harmonica intro, and then is followed by acoustic guitar and a confident coffee house delivered melody, with a cool groove that gets (slightly) soulful in its final musical moments.
Boom – ‘April Fools’ – gets percussion rocky with a slide guitar and a lyric about “a straw man behind the curtain”. And there’s a nice electric guitar solo. The year has moved on from a Valentine’s card, and the plural “Fools” moves the tune well beyond a silly holiday sing-a-long.
Boom – again – ‘Sunday Afternoons’ is a happy (and urgent) pulse rate tune with yet another infectious chorus that quotes a few “sha-la-las” and the occasional “do-run-run”.
But then Michael pulls the rip cord, and the expectant and joyous ‘Happy Fourth Of July’ falls into a reality dive and slows the fireworks, and rather, contemplates America’s fall from grace into gun violence and assassination. Indeed, “They shot him in Dallas”;“they shot him in Memphis”; they shot him in L.A.”; “they shot him in New York”; and “now they shoot us on Main Street”. Oh my, there’s guts that bleed gunpowder in this tune, and, trust me, it doesn’t send anybody a Hallmark greeting card.
It’s just an idea, but Wachtraum is a delightful (and well-produced) echo of all the great music from the 70’s when folk sincerity touched pop production and earned radio street credibility. To name names: Seals and Crofts, James Taylor, Paul Simon, Dan Fogelberg; and to get a bit more esoteric, England’s Sutherland Brothers and Gallagher and Lyle (of McGuinness Flint and Art Garfunkel’s ‘Break Away’ fame). Let’s just say these folks knew how to write a decent tune.
And, indeed, all the seasons do continue to change. ‘August Nights’ is a stroll down summer’s memory lane, with a late 50’s poodle-skirted pulse and a lovely languid guitar solo. And then fall descends with ‘Always Vermont’ – a soulful piano ballad drenched with dreamy images of “the smell of rising wood smoke and corn stocks in a row” and “stars so near and real that you can almost hold them close.” This is late night reflective stuff. But then (and truly out of nowhere!) comes ‘Birthday On Birthday’, which is a celebration of, I assume, Michael’s big day. It’s a galloping tune with slide guitar that personalizes the record, and it (sort of) strays from the central theme. But it does conjure the music of (the before-mentioned) Gallagher and Lyle, circa their brilliant album, Willie And The Lapdog. So, it’s still pretty cool.
But the seasonal salute resumes with ‘Last Days Of Summer’. It’s just an idea, but the song could almost be an outtake from Barclay James Harvest’s album, Time Honoured Ghosts. And that’s meant to be a really nice thing to say. Then, ‘First Snow Of The Year’ returns to that blissful memory of 70’s acoustic magic. And that’s meant to be another really nice thing to say.
Of course, the finale song, ‘One Wish’, is an open prayer that’s meant to warm the heart, and it is a sonic comforter that covers an ever hopeful featherbed, with Kristi Gholsen adding a haloed dual harmonic voice.
This one’s not for purists. But it’s a wonderful glance back to days when songs like ‘Hummingbird’, ‘Leader Of The Band’, and ‘Time In A Bottle’ ruled the radio and rewarded the patience of the listeners who desired songs with depth, poetry, and acoustic passion.
Artist’s website: https://www.michaelveitch.com/
‘Best Of Many Days’ from Michael’s previous album: