Dreamboats & Lemonade
“If I Can’t Have You” digital single
Ever since I began my foray into the land of the LPGA the final week of August (see my previous post: New Life), my routine has been completely off kilter. Until earlier this week, I have not turned on my stereo at home, in my car, or dialed up tunes while at work, which may be the longest I’ve gone without making personal choices with music since I was a little kid. I’m not sure if I needed the break, or if it was something worrisome, but I finally cracked open some sealed records that have been sitting around my living room unopened for several weeks.
It’s fitting that the first album I encountered this week is the debut LP from The Yearning Dreamboats & Lemonade. The Yearning makes music that I have been a sucker for since I was a child – music that transports me to someplace unreal but ideal, which is where I’ve found my thoughts most of the time these days. They magically recreate the innocence of the late 50s/early 60s doo-wop girl groups as spear-headed by producers like Phil Spector and the Brill Building songwriters and bands such as the Ronettes, the Shirelles, the Supremes, Martha and the Vandellas, and my favorite the Shangri-Las. Songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Joe Moore, along with the stunningly beautifully voiced Maddie Dobie have created a world where going steady and holding hands and a desire for a simple and true love has not yet been spoiled by years and years of jadedness, heartbreak, and the cruel realities of what humankind can dole out. In other words, the perfect soundtrack for a person like me looking for a renewal, a redo, and a new spark.
“Dreamboat” begins this collection with sounds of an ocean shore and classic doo-wop “dum dum do-do-wa’s” from Dobie and Alicia Rendle-Woodhouse and a waltz that is exactly about drifting away completely with a special someone and it is so damn perfect that it seems like this song has always been around to hum along with. This anticipation dressed in classic pop is also presented beautifully in the exciting “Tomorrow Night,” as Dobie prepares to see her beau. The first single, and my introduction to the band, “If I Can’t Have You,” brings in a dose of longing, as Dobie emotes about having to settle for someone other than that afore mentioned ‘dreamboat’ atop a drum beat and a church organ that recalls the best girl group story songs over time (The digital single also includes the non-LP b-side “Gotta Pull Myself Together,” originally by the Nolans, new wave era girl group – only the Yearning washes away the dated sound of the original production). Similarly, the vocal harmony packed “Lemonade,” also finds our girl lost in dreams of a crush unfulfilled.
Meanwhile, the jaunty “Dance with Me” brings in a deep bass groove and would make the perfect soundtrack to the busy old rock-n-roll roller skating rinks that I’ve heard about or seen in movies - not the rundown, dirty, mostly abandoned, and creepy ones I remember as a kid. Elsewhere, Moore channels his inner Ennio Morricone with the Spaghetti Western cinematics of “Marry Me in the Morning” and the Marty Robbins sounding “Every Time I Fall in Love.” It’s the melancholic “Chasing Shadows” that really captures me though, especially once the scooting bass line delicately begins and the Camera Obscura-esque trumpet and flute orchestrations fill the room. My favorite song here is the finale ballad “When I Was Your Baby,” whose simplicity evokes all kinds of sadness and a lingering realization that this was all a dream.
Moore, Dobie and company have crafted pop perfection that is an ode to a musical era from long ago, but one that is timeless and still sounds fresh today.
The Yearning "If I Can't Have You"