Album Reviews

Reviewed by Musical 
by Russell Elliot

(12 September 2004)
The Dreaming have returned with a new eleven-track release entitled Shadow Days (DreamSuite 
Records (USA), 2004). Our visitors should recall the band’s prior two releases Picture Book Rain and Silent (review). The Dreaming play a light blend of progressive rock and other styles laced with gorgeous female vocals. Based in Buffalo, NY the band is fronted with the silky vocals of Ann Janish-Schieder (lead and backing vocals, keyboard). The lineup is completed by newcomer Leah Pinnavaia (harmony vocals, clarinet and lead vocals on “Useful Vagueness”), with Ray Lorigo (guitar, bass), Daniel Haskin (guitar, ebow, keyboard), and Patrick O’Connell (drums, percussion and acoustic guitar on “The Dreaming”). The album also includes a guest appearance by Joe Pinnavaia [Leah’s brother and co-member of the band Cosmic Stepping Stones] playing mandolinon “Mourning Rain.”

The album demonstrates significant development since The Dreaming’s prior two releases with more refined and lush arrangements joined by Leah’s soaring soprano vocal harmonies. We can’t wait to hear more from her. Tempo and musical styles vary across the album contributing to changes in mood and texture. Says Daniel Haskin, “Ray and I have been playing together for a long time and we orchestrate our parts a certain way to capture a feel.” The trend continues into Shadow Days.

Shadow Days, like The Dreaming’s earlier work, plays on the lighter side of progressive rock and is dominated by gentler art- or folk-rock oriented numbers. The ballads contribute to the most memorable moments of the album. Standouts include “Useful Vagueness” and “Love Is A Grieving Thing” with echoing acoustic and electric guitar parts amply contrasting with the singers’ stunning vocals.

The new album is varied yet cohesive collection of tracks with most blending smoothly into the next in the running order. Opening with the upbeat folk rock tune “Demons,” the album rapidly progresses into the dramatically produced “Useful Vagueness.” The rapturous yet bluesy lead is sung by Leah Pinnavaia. The singers’ backing harmonies perfectly complement the lush instrumentals that build in the bridge. “Perfect Skin” is the first of the album’s ballads. A tender lyrical message led by Ann is perfectly balanced by Leah’s harmonies and clarinet backing.

Ann’s folky vocals are perfectly underscored by Leah’s soaring soprano vocalise in “Piglet and the Black Fox,” a typical progressive rock track with vast tempo and mood changes. “Supernova” is an downtempo piece with notable vocals by the two singers offset by a sharpness to the otherwise lush arrangement while the folk-oriented “Loki” instrumental is dominated by estremely crisp acoustic guitar licks.

“My Resurrection” is a more thickly arranged progressive rock number with Ann’s evocative yet bluesy lead backed by Leah’s lush harmonies. The perfect sonic blend of vocals and instrumental–especially electric guitar–arrangements is especially notable. “Mourning Rain” presents an immediate and striking change with layers of vocals backed by mandolin and folky acoustic instrumentation reminiscent of much earlier days.

Driven by blues guitar and standup bass, the album takes another 90 degree turn into a smokey lounge tune with “Hard Enough.” Ann’s vocal leads and soars above the arrangements between the notable guitar solos. The album concludes with the dramatically arranged cross-cultural and frenetic instrumental “The Dreaming.” Leah’s soaring vocal introduction compliments instrumentals before Ann’s contrasting vocal enters the fray. Daniel told us, “[this track] was an off the cuff improv based upon a beat and was supposed to be immediate, feeding off each other at 1AM in the studio. We wanted it capture a moment and did the track with hardly any overdubbing.”

The Dreaming have continued to demonstrate the maturity of a modern day progressive band with material spanning ballads, blues and rock. The variation between the accessible songs and the more intricate numbers works well for the band on this third release. Standouts include “Useful Vagueness,” and “Love is a Grieving Thing” with “Perfect Skin” and “My Ressurection” running a close second. The band gig in the Buffalo area and we hope to catch one of their live performances and discuss it with our readers soon. In the meantime be sure to check out Shadow Days, available directly from the band’s website!

The Dreaming is a band out of Buffalo, New York comprising of Ann Janish-Schieder, Ray Lorigo, Daniel Haskin, Pat O’Connell and Leah Pinnavaia. From the very first track the listener is aware that he/she is in for something exciting, full of emotion and energy. The first cut, “Demons” grabs you with its percussive dance feel that makes you want to “reach for the light” and dance into the night with that song on repeat.

The guitars at the beginning of “perfect skin” makes you wish they would go on and on. I was happy to discover, however, the vocals are just as hypnotic. Phew.. The band follows this with a kick in the ass of “Piglet and the Black Fox” which takes you on a journey, sometimes frightening,  keeping you on the edge of your seat throughout the track.

The Dreaming is a group of musicians in an age of popcorn. Thank GOD for that! (or whoever you choose to thank for great music.. The ghost of  Mozart, maybe?) Cut 5, “Love is a Grieving Thing” is reminiscent of  “Strawberry Fields Forever,” moody and thoughtful. One of my favorites of  the CD. Remember, I said, “one of my favorites” because after that one, you move on to “Loki,” a guitar instrumental that I am having trouble describing. I don’t want to ruin it with words. It’s brilliant.

Every time I hear “Hard Enough” I get the vision of a gorgeous, buxom beauty grabbing the microphone like she is grabbing… Well, like she’s grabbing  … Oh, never mind. Then right after this Xena moment, this same muse purrs like a kitten with the mandolin in “Mourning Rain.”

The last cut on the CD, “The Dreaming,” has to be one of the band’s favorites to perform. If not, they do a hell of a job making it sound like they are having a really good time with all those, sometimes dark, emotions in those sounds. It is the best cut on the CD. When I make a movie about a beautiful, young girl being chased into the dark, misty, deep woods by a stranger who, in the end, turns out to be her … well, you can fill in the blank, this song will be the soundtrack.

You may get the impression that the Dreaming is an artistic band, but it would be hard to pigeon-hole them into the “art rock” category. They have such diversity on their songs. When you find a CD like “Shadow Days,” you are very happy to be home, alone with your bitchin’ sound system and a glass of wine. (pathetic or cool? I don’t know.. A great find. A great band.

***** = On my list of all time favorites. Damn near perfect. CD needed to breath properly.
**** = I like all the songs a whole bunch, there are more than a couple that I love.
*** = I like a couple songs. The CD is mezzo, mezzo, whatever the hell that means.
** = I am going to trade it in for credit at my local used CD shop. What was I thinking?
* = I’m using it as a coaster. I’m not wasting my gas to go trading at the CD shop.

Doug LeBlanc
Toronto, Canada

Chemistry. No, I’m not talking about the high school subject. I’m talking about that magical quality that makes the best bands work. I’m talking about the chemistry between musicians in a band that works. Anyone who has ever seen and heard the classic lineup from Yes, or Dave Cousins and Dave Lambert with the Strawbs, or Ian Anderson and Martin Barre from Jethro Tull, will know what I’m talking about.

There is something special about the relationship; about how they work together so well they are practically seamless. The Dreaming demonstrate that in the new album called `Shadow Days’. As special and dramatic was their last album `Picturebook Rain’, with the new work they have exceeded all my expectations. They combine musical styles and colours with flare and vision, to the degree that each song stands out sharply.

Upon my first hearing, three songs blew me away right off, with `Love is a Grieving Thing’ the strongest. However, further listenings have endeared the beautiful and brilliant `Mourning Rain’, and the haunting `Supernova’ to me. The band consists of the delightful combined female voices of Ann Janish-Schieder, and Leah Pinnavia in melodies as lyrical and haunting as anything accomplished by Renaissance in their heyday. The rest of the band includes the extremely talented members Ray Lorgio, Daniel Haskin on guitars, and Patrick O’Connell on drums.

After hearing this album four of five times, I have trouble deciding which song is my favourite! Each one is wonderful. This band was only developing on the last marvelous work of `Picturebook Rain’, but now have blossomed into a full-fledged band of remarkable writing and performing ability. I can’t help but think that fans of the Strawbs would love this. The fact that Witchwood Records is their European distributor is no accident. My only hope is that this album will bring them the recognition they so richly deserve. .

Shadow Days
Reviewed by Feedback Fanzine
by Kev Rowland

‘Shadow Days’ is the third album from this Buffalo New York – based band, which features Ann Janish-Schieder (vocals, piano, synth), Leah Pinnavaia (vocals, clarinet, keyboards), Daniel Haskin (acoustic and electric guitar, ebow, synth) and Pat O’Connell (drums). At the time of this 2004 album they also had Ray Lorigo on guitar and bass but although he played on all three albums he doesn’t appear to still be with the band who expect their fourth album to be available later this year. I am not sure of the original influences of these guys, although they have opened for The Strawbs on more than one occasion, but they do come across as an American more sanitised version of Mostly Autumn, along with singers such as Ann Ryder and Talis Kimberley. The music is strongly based around the vocals of Ann and Leah and is extremely enjoyable and accessible on first hearing.

Although they do use electric guitars this is often a fairly acoustic album, with wonderful arrangements that mean that while the music is flowing and is at times very complex it is always the vehicle for the vocals, always being designed to augment and add to the vocals and never detract from them in any way. There is a strong understanding and use of dynamics which adds to the light and shade so that even though there may be a rigging electric guitar at the beginning of “Piglet and the Black Fox” it soon gives way to something that is far more delicate. Overall this is a very enjoyable album indeed and one that folkies will probably get as much out of as progheads, while those into good music are in for a treat.