CD Review: Matt Harmon “Childhood Dreams”

mattharmon2Cleveland singer-songwriter Matt Harmon splits his musical time creating his own music and teaching future songwriters and musicians how to do the same. As far as his own music is concerned, Harmon has released two CDs of original material. Adding to the list that includes the 2012 release Cosmic Yonder, the newest release from Matt Harmon is entitled Childhood Dreams.

To help Matt Harmon create his newest album of music, Harmon turned to a group of talented musicians. In fact, the list of names looks like a “Who’s Who” of the Cleveland music scene. Each and every person who added their talents to the project has been part of the scene here in Cleveland for years. In addition to Harmon, the rest of the musicians performing on the release include: vocalist Kate Kooser, bassist Kevin Johnson, drummer Gary Naherny, keyboardist Chris Hanna and pedal steel player Al Moss. These musicians help to bring Harmon’s new release of Childhood Dreams to life.

For his newest release of Childhood Dreams, Matt Harmon took the storybook approach to his writing technique. From one track to the next, each song on the release tells one part of a story. The resulting album focuses on ten angles of life. When added together, the ten songs tell ten different parts of a story; a story that doesn’t have an ending because the story has not come to an end.

Childhood Dreams from Matt Harmon begins with the track “It’s Been a While”. This first track finds the male character deciding to pick up the pieces of his life and begin again as he tries the dating scene for the first time in a while, looking for someone who might interest him. As far as the music goes, the track features a simple folk-like rock feel to the music. On this track, it’s more about the subject matter than it is about showing off, musically-speaking. While the song contains an easy Soft Rock feel, the musicians all combine together to create a track with a real ensemble feel to the music. The gentle approach allows the listener the chance to gradually make their way into the new release from Matt Harmon.

With the next track of “Three Days on the Road,” the musical ensemble continues their Soft Rock feel to the music that was found on “It’s Been a While,” with just a little increase in the energy of the music. But only just a little. With this track, Harmon tells the story of a young family that decides to leave their home for a new place to settle down. But on the long 3-day journey, the wife changes her mind and wishes to return to the place they used to call home.

Easily one of the standout tracks on Childhood Dreams has to be “Man That’s Mean”. The music of the track has one of the most radio-friendly sounds of any of the songs on the release. It is the organ from keyboardist Chris Hanna that the song revolves around. That organ adds an easy feel to the music. The lyrics find Harmon writing about a man who knows what his bad qualities are, although he refuses to do anything about it. While the subject matter isn’t the best since the subject will always continue to do the things he shouldn’t, “Man That’s Mean” is still one of the strongest tracks on Childhood Dreams.

As you make your way through the songs on Childhood Dreams from Matt Harmon, you find a loosely-knit storyline that revolves around a family life theme. During each song, a piece of the story is unveiled that pushes the premise along. You watch a family grow, a man spending too much time with his friends at the neighborhood bar, a relationship become strained, and ultimately, fall apart.

By the time the listener reaches the title track of the release, a family has fallen apart. The track of “Childhood Dreams” is a somber reminder that not all dreams come true. The song reminds you that even your broken dreams can help make you stronger. While the lyrics are quite somber in nature, the music of the track is played with as much lightheartedness as possible. The track ends up being one of the best moments on the album.

To reinforce the idea that broken dreams make you stronger, Harmon writes a track that continues with a very similar message. The song “Writer’s Block” finds the singer accepting bad ideas as bad ideas, throwing those ideas away, and then trying over again to write something better. The lyrics to the song are delivered in such a manner that they feel like words to a poem and the instrumentation feels very much like light jazz. Together, the words and music make “Writer’s Block” one of the more emotional moments on the new release from Matt Harmon.

Childhood Dreams, the new release from Matt Harmon, contains many moments that will make you think back to what was, what could have been and then think ahead to what might be in the future. Each storyline within the tracks will evoke some kind of emotion, whether good or best forgotten. While the album is rather low-key in nature, the songs on Childhood Dreams are well-written, well-played and rather enjoyable.

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