“Lark the Ivy On” is the fifth outing for Dewey Syntax and as a long-term listener I can say that this is the most mature effort to date. Every track on the CD shows the care and consideration the artist took to create a body of work that is on par with his influences. Notably, Dewey Syntax makes good use of extended guitar riffs without becoming self-indulgent. From the first note of “Better Days Ahead” to the fade out of “Moonlight / Still in Love,” the CD shows Eric Dewey’s coordinated effort to guide your soul on an evocative journey. In fact, to not listen to the CD from beginning to end is to lose some of the story and to be cheated of the essence and spirit that is “Lark the Ivy On.”
The following is a review of specific songs on the CD that stood out to me:
“Better Days Ahead” is the most optimistic song for a first track and sets the bar quite high for the rest of the CD. The opening chord strikes deep and then the melody lifts your head and shows you the bright horizon. Listen carefully as the song builds to about midway through the song where the song seems to illustrate self-doubt followed by re-energized optimism in the bridge. The end of the song is a bookend with the beginning just to remind you that better days are ahead.
The most remarkable thing about “Awaiting Fate/Fate’s Arrival” is that it can best be described as “it was, and is, and is to come.” So take a moment to visualize the song like this: There’s a man about to meet his fate when he asks himself, “How did it come to this?” Then the second part of the song begins as he goes back to the beginning to find out. This song seems to be filled with choices that you can sense at intervals. At the heart of the song is the question of fate vs. choice. Are we what fate wants us to be or are we the sum or our choices? Finally, fate arrives at the point of the song’s beginning and we find out what happens to the man. In the end is simple acceptance and the song fades out.
My personal favorite is “And Then We Have.” I think this track is the most melodic and engaging of all the songs on the CD. The song is well put together with defined verses and a beautiful chorus. During the verses, Dewey Syntax has some great runs, and true to form, they are done perfectly and fit with the universe that Eric Dewey created for this album. One other thing that is done well is Dewey Syntax’s usage of bookending the song in a way that shows how much time and thought went in to producing something truly important.
To sum everything up, I highly recommend this CD to anyone who wants to sit down and relax with pleasant company and a bottle of wine. You can actively listen to the album or you can have the music enhance your evening. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s a record like “Breakfast in America” is for Supertramp—a once-in-a-career album—but it’s not too far behind. Add this CD to your collection today.