Fresh Tracks: Whole New World by Francis Dunnery
After a brief hiatus Andrew Tobias returns with Fresh Tracks, this time with a declaration of love fueled by the release of his new album Whole New World.
To me Francis Dunnery has always been one of the music industries best kept secrets. No matter how much I have enjoyed his songs it has never bothered me that I was the only one among my friends. It has always been like a brotherhood with a secret handshake, a knowing wink or nod to people behind the record store counter pr someone wearing an It Bites T-shirt one happens to see on the street.
I was first introduced to Dunnery as a teenager, when I heard American Life in the Summertime, and the album Fearless became the soundtrack to the summer of ’96 for me. Since then he wandered in and out of my life and I was even introduced to his band It Bites. At times it can be trying to be a Dunnery fan. He likes to experiment and some of his production has been a highly dubious adventure in various soundscapes, but I guess that is part of his charm. This does lead to the fact that whenever a new album is released one enters into it with a sense of trepidation.
Whole New World Remix does evoke a variety of feelings and questions. Is it a remix album where songs from Dunnery’s catalog is enhanced with ambient sounds, very much in the style of his Made in Space or a re-imagining of the same like his work with The New Progressives. To my joy it was more of the latter than the former. The remix in this case are Dunnery’s interpretations of It Bites tunes as well as some of the more classic progressive songs of the seventies and eighties. Songs like The Faces’ Glad and Sorry or Genesis’ Back in New York City.
This is definitely Dunnery at his best. Most of the songs are flavored with a goodly dose of Steely Dan and other fusion jazz acts. It is a more mature sound, maybe aimed at a more mature audience with a taste for quality and excitement in composition. IT may not be an introduction to his musical history, but it is an introduction to his world, his amazing voice and wonderful ability. This is Francis Dunnery at his absolute best.