The Harmony Dreamers project, led by multi-instrumentalist and composer Byron Lee Scott, gathers musicians and vocalists from around the globe for a sprawling album release entitled I Come from Earth. The driving concept behind this release is gathering a collection of world musicians from North and South America, Europe, and far beyond to perform a song cycle laudable for its positivity and welcoming tone. This musical moment is meant to encourage each of us to embody the same mood/spirit pervading this material.
It will not accomplish its aforementioned goal in any significant way. Songs can’t change the world, only individuals. These are marvelous songs, however. The first track is the album’s title tune “I Come from Earth” and it’s a virtual sonic feast for anyone who appreciates edgy, risk-taking music. It twists, contorts, and shifts direction several times, but “I Come from Earth” never fails to make sense. Scott’s guitar playing is a high point of the performance.
“Sophie and Pearl” is a very different song. Much of I Come from Earth is a relatively laid back musical experience, primarily centered on keyboard and/or synthesizer textures, but there’s flexibility as well. Clarinet makes an appearance during this track and the playing shares the same smiling, coy spirit pervading the remainder of the cut. “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me” is largely dominated by Scott’s voice, but there are important secondary vocal contributions from female backing vocalists that pushes the track to a higher level. It has a glittering surface, yes, but there’s depth here as well.
“The First Song Suite” allows Scott to flex his guitar playing chops some. The heavily synthesized sound, however, will definitely divide some listeners. It is, nonetheless, sonically assertive and deeply musical. Melody is never far away from the table during Harmony Dreamers’ I Come from Earth and even this track is no exception. The album’s second “suite” isn’t labeled as such but the multi-part song “Spinning Round the Sun” offers a lot for listeners. I
It’s arguably the album’s marquee track. Much of the performance is instrumental in origin but the concluding “movement” called “Solar Rays” provides listeners with the album’s most fully realized musical moment. The wide range of material Scott generated for this release is one of the most impressive elements of the album as later tracks such as “Free Way” and “Paro Paro Butterlfy” prove. He’s able to retain a core musical/sonic identity yet branch out as he deems it necessary without ever losing his audience.
It’s a talent we can expect to continue serving him well. Scott is obviously considerably more than a newcomer, but there’s a freshness to the presentation and songs included on Harmony Dreamers’ I Come from Earth that suggests it may be some time before his creative well runs dry. Let’s hope so. The far-reaching imagination underlying these songs begs for further works like this, even if they adopt a different end goal. You can’t help but applaud his intentions behind this album, but in the end, we are blessed to have some great music, regardless of anything else.