Caught In Motion – On the Edge of a Dream

Caught In Motion - On The Edge of a Dream

Caught In Motion - On The Edge of a Dream

On the Edge of a Dream begins like an extended hand followed by a hushed voice that says “come on, let’s go.”  The crescendo of a single piano note with the addition of a couple chords heightens the anticipation. When the percussion steps in, the piano takes off and the textural notes resonate with depth as the vocals enter with a hint of whine and nasal.  I could imagine these vocals in a punk environment, screaming and shouting, but here it stands out instead of just smoothly fading away with the music.  With jazz-infused piano, driving percussion and guitars, and edgy vocals, the different influences and styles all mash together for a song that works quite well.  A strong opening to a debut indeed.

This Portland-based duo of Banah Graf and Sam Krulewitch certainly show their potential with this emotionally charged album.  While they maintain a 5-piece lineup in their touring band, the album was recorded with these two founding members.  The vocals land somewhere in between Ben Folds, Brian Molko and Thom Yorke, leaning more one way or the other depending on the emotion being channeled within the song. The general style can’t be characterized as either jazz infused piano rock or emotional guitar-driven pop because they span a bit of both with a some areas in between for a versatility that keeps the album interesting.

The title track posseses a distinct tone of optimism with jangly finger picking and whispy high-pitched piano notes swirling around in the air as the vocals plead Come fly with me/ on this ledge we believe/ that the stars, they fall easy/ on the edge of a dream.”  This melancholy tune picks up halfway through with dreamy electric guitar and heightened percussion.  It flows well into “Halo”, one of my personal favorites, a song that conjures up feelings of a care-free, childlike manner and images of happiness – like that of being surrounded by family and perhaps watching the first flakes of snow and thinking of little else but going out and having a snowball fight.  At the same time there is an undercurrent of sadness which lets loose in “Heroes”, an intimate piano-based ballad with hushed yet sustained organ in the background.  The tempo is slow and somber, with moments of Elliot Smith-like harmonies that continually cry “when my heroes die”. 

Just as the feeling of sadness wraps up “Heroes” there are but a few seconds before it is pushed away.  “Drop the Ball Now” walks up with a few seemingly harmless acoustic chords before copping an attitude, perhaps out of embarassement for showing a vulnerable side in the previous track.  The bassline is defiant, the percussion driving and the vocals standing their ground saying “I’ll be dammed if I’ll let you push me around”. The piano dives in and rallys for support.  The vocals crack at times, showing more emotion than previously seen on the album. They play around more with rise and fall, going from breathy to rising out of anger and frustration.  This is the obvious stand out track on the album. 

It’s unfortunate that “My Busy Mind”, which follows immediately after the “Drop The Ball Now”, is the weakest track of the album.  This is primarily because the last two minutes of the track are just electronic distortion with the line nothing at all” repeated over and over.  It’s just painful and goes on far too long, but the band recovers after the stumble and manages to finish off the album well, even if not with quite the same strength as the first half.

A hole so many musicians fall into when casting a piano in the musical lineup is that they really don’t know how to work with it to make it shine. There tends to be such a fine line with the piano in how to use it effectively but not produce ivory exhaustion for the listener. In On The Edge of a Dream, the piano is perfectly cast, playing all the right roles to enhance the emotional authenticity of the album. Caught in Motion has an ability to wield different styles to their advantage in creating a heartfelt and intelligent album filled with honest pop songs that flow together as smoothly as their skills on the piano.

Caught In Motion