Published Oct 29, 2018Edmonton-based Calvin Love unites his pop sensibilities, a lo-fi attitude, and more than a touch of folksy twang for his latest album, Highway Dancer. Love's commitment to his vision of the album is best demonstrated by the careful incorporation of supposedly conflicting styles, especially at the end: the penultimate track, "Prairie Thunder Jazz Dream" is lovely, sax-driven, and sounds exactly like the title, before plunging into "Wildflower," a synth-backed pop single.
These tracks, along with the opener, "Soundtrack of My Dreams" bookend the more guitar-driven meat of the album, presenting it as if it's a dream, or at least a transition in the middle of something else. This dream-like quality is only enhanced by the interlude halfway through, "What Is Reality?"
"Wildflower" and "You Got Me Runnin'" — both released as singles — are two of the album's strongest tracks. "You Got Me Runnin'" sets up the main body of the album. The smooth vocals glide against the slippery guitar riffs in a way that's both dreamy and reminiscent of the songs that follow, with a grittier, more folksy sound.
The production of Highway Dancer is less polished than 2012's Super Future, but it's to the album's benefit. These songs are about transitions, movement, and gracefully refusing to compromise; without the grit, they might sound disingenuous or plastic, instead of dreamy, atmospheric, and ultimately hopeful — even if by sheer force of will — in the face of melancholy. (Modern Sky USA)