Once you’ve heard the name The Reverie Machine, you’ve had the most proper introduction to the band comprising Meghan Yates, Mordechai Rosenblatt and Elliot Heeschen, who all chime in with various components of the machine.
The first, most striking thing about their new CD, “Not By Blood,” is Yates’ jazzy voice, as it is revealed to the listener immediately in a capella form. It is the kind of voice that some will love and others might need a bit of warming up to. But most importantly, it is unmistakable. No matter what, it is clear in the beginning that she is perfectly comfortable in her role.
And she should be because even a casual read of her lyrics will reveal a river that runs incredibly deep in every word she puts out there.
The first set of tunes roll out against a mostly pitch-black sonic background, with Heeschen’s cheery, shuffling drum work on top of the mix with Yates’ vocals. Rosenblatt’s bass pushes air around underneath them with the patience of a saint.
The guitar plays along hypnotically, adding color only sparsely while lines such as “you know the word got out about those boys, those brutal sons of somebody, someone’s neighbor, someone’s friends” roll out across an audible landscape.
Track six sees the first dramatic tonal shift in the album. A lonely horn by Mark Tipton drifts in against a plucking guitar part reminiscent of The Doves while the bassist and the drummer take a break. It’s a tune that is nearly the antithesis to its very own premise: “I’m longing for that rock ‘n’ roll kind of love.”
But just when you might begin to think you’ve heard it all from the Machine, “Lady of the Sea” pushes out an equally awesome, pulsing groove courtesy of the rhythm section. Some very interesting keyboards fall behind the vocals to powerful effect, and the album has officially established a new course that is once again brought full-circle in the final cut, “Ran Hard,” a song that makes the front and back ends of “Not By Blood” congruent to each other.
Special contributions are made by Peter Himmer on vibraphone and percussion. Sara Hallie Richardson, Katie Pinard and Todd Hutchisen all pitch in on vocals.
But the especially notable piece is the production that Hutchisen and The Reverie Machine developed on this album.
“Not By Blood” is a CD worth digging into and exploring. Its treasures are simply revealed in voice, lyric and melody, but deeply revealed in soul and spirit through each individual’s longing to connect in tune.
Kristin DiCara-McClellan is a freelance writer.