Indigo Dreams


Oarfin, 2011

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


Singer-songwriters Kurt Neumann and Sammy Llanas formed the BoDeans in high school 27 years ago.  I doubt many of their devoted fans picked up their new disc Indigo Dreams thinking it might be the group’s swan song—and indeed, it isn’t, but only because Neumann has announced he will forge on under the BoDeans banner without Llanas, who abruptly walked away a couple of weeks ago in the midst of the group’s current tour. 

Associated drama aside, Indigo Dreams is a fine way to finish off an era.  Kicky opener “Blowin’ My Mind” is a classic BoDeans anthem—sneaky-smart observations lurking inside a foot-stomping bar-band sing-along.  The title track takes a completely different path to tug at the listener’s heart and mind, digging into the trials of mid-life with typical fearlessness: “No one ever dreams of being old / Everyone sees their indigo dreams painted gold.”  Lyrical and gorgeous, nostalgic and resolved, it’s a bullseye on a target Bruce Springsteen has been shooting at for the past twenty years.

From there, the kaleidoscope of tones and approaches continues to unfold around the same basic theme; these are songs of determination and persistence at middle age, songs about trying to make things happen and make things last.  “Right Now” is a spooky, philosophical bit about living in the present; “How Can We” is an expansive “steady on to the horizon” number whose narrator declares he “Never gave up on you.”my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

“Way Down” is this album’s requisite “celebration of sex” track (a BoDeans staple), loud, proud and harking back to memorable tracks gone by such as “Go Slow Down” and “Feed The Fire.”  Nostalgia is the very core of “Sad Eyes,” a stream-of-consciousness reminiscence sprinkled with old song lyrics that raise the ghosts of memories and emotions again and again for the narrator. 

And then “Wrap Me” busts things wide open again with the kind of big-boned, expansive rocker that broke the guys loose from the pack when “Closer To Free” made the airwaves back in the mid-’90s.  The verses are somewhat restrained, building tension to allow the song to explode outward at the chorus.  And then the spacious, mid-tempo “Me Again” comes along and reminds us all that the gift that these guys gave us by staying together as a duo all those years was the counterpoint between their voices, one in the foreground, one in the background, first echoing, then harmonizing, always complementing each other beautifully. 

Damn it.

The final third of the album is very strong.  “Don’t Wanna Go” adds mariachi horns for a little Latin flavor, setting up “Rock and Roll Overdrive,” a raging screed against the music business and the seamy side of rock and roll success, driven by a fat, gritty riff.  The delicate, pretty interlude “Father’s Day” calms things down again, prepping you for the full-blast garage-pop confection “Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is,” full of greasy guitar lines and doo-doo-doo-doo-doot choruses.  (It’s actually a very serious song about the need to pay for the wars we start: “Put your money where your mouth is / So you’re not just speaking crazy.”) 

The disc closes with “Mercy,” a deadly serious meditation on mortality and spirituality, set to reverbed guitar and subtle synth accents that pulse along underneath until the narrator reaches the end of his deathbed contemplation, and the music fades, and the heartbeat ends.  Pow, right in the gut.

Indigo Dreams is an excellent disc that ensures the Llanas-Neumann partnership—or at least this phase of it—will go out on a high note.  With intelligence, melodic drive, and musical craftsmanship to spare, it's a fitting milestone from a band that’s now suddenly entering unexplored territory.

Rating: A-

User Rating: A


© 2011 Jason Warburg and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Oarfin, and is used for informational purposes only.