Thomas Dybdahl is relatively unknown to these forums, so I guess it's best to describe him first. He's a young singer-songwriter from Norway...but it's hard to tell when you hear his songs, because in my opinion, he ranks up there with the best new American/UK singer songwriters today. He's a very gifted singer and guitar player, with a knack for dreamy lush and subtle arrangements that seem less complex than they really are. ...That Great October Sound is his breakthrough album in Europe...and probably the best introduction to his music.
01 From Grace
There probably is no better introduction to Thomas Dybdahl than this song. It's simply gorgeous. It immediately displays his amazing voice, which can be very deep and soothing...yet also produce a beautiful falsetto. The intro fades in gradually, with Thomas playing some beautiful guitar melodies. His guitar playing is definately up there with Nick Drake as far as beauty goes. I love the way the drummer creates a freeflowingness through the song with his brush sticks. This is a song that's constantly searching...ascending to the beautiful soaring chorus, then descending to the verses. It hits the spot.
02 All's Not Lost
Starts with some basic string melodies, with Dybdahls tranquil guitar coming in. You can hear that the rhythm section is very subtle done with the tamborine building up tension. It's a very straight up peaceful song, Around halfway through the song, it gets a little ambient, with a slighly out of tune keyboard...with the guitar, percussion and bass lingering underneath. It molds into this beautiful spiralling guitar melody, with an oozing yet simplistic acoustic guitar solo by Thomas. Fade out.
03 That Great October Sound
Starts with some light acoustic strumming, and Thomas singing in a very soft somber tone. Immediately it unfolds into this...thing of beauty. I have no other words for it to descibe it. The string section is what makes this song, as they dictate the songs extravert and introvert moments. The sound continues in a brilliant section of strings and guitar soundscapes. I love the way Thomas works his guitar in the more timid moments, while settling for chords in the arranged parts. After he sings "she was that great october sound" he delivers another gorgeous guitar solo, while the song almost floats to it's demise.
04 Life Here Is Gold
This song is a bit more stripped, it's mainly Thomas and his guitar alone. This is some of the most beautiful guitar playing that ever gazed my ears. The lyrics are beautiful. This song is very vocally driven...almost effortly going from deep fuzzy vocals do beautiful creamy falsetto. The song has a bit of a bluesy/country edge. Extremely nice.
05 Tomorrow Stays The Same
Oh, dear...eargasm! Starts with an organ key...and a beautiful guitar intro accompanied briefly by deep gospel-like backing vocals. Geez...it's so hard not to glorify every song on this record. Anyway I digress. This song is one of the more fragile ones...with very subtle guitar and percussion/drum works. I love the piano melody in the somewhat introvert chorus. The melodies are a bit more conventional in this song, but it's never bothersome. I love the bridge...beautiful guitar work that kicks off gorgeous heavy hitting piano work. The most beautiful soul wrenching moment is right after this part, when the song tones down again...and Thomas releases this tiny out of tune guitar melody (it's a bit bluesy) that just tears through. For some reason that moment is just so moving. Amazing song all the way.
The first weak moment of the album. Thomas plays on his guitar, kind of random melodies...but there are spoken vocals over it. Very skippable...I wish this was left off this album. It' doesn't serve a purpose on this album..it's a filler of sorts.
The first thing that's noticable on this track is the gorgeous folky violin melody that accompanies Thomas' fingerpicking style. I love the way he sings here...it's as if he let's the music guide his voice along. This is the perfect riverside song...it flows just like water. Pizzicato strings bring some some nice accents to the music. There's a nice short harmonica solo midway through the song. Another amazing track, almost effortless.
08 John Wayne
This is one of my favorites. Thomas sings very boldy, guided by his acoustic guitar. The song is really about John Wayne. After the verses the drums become a bit more of a prescense, and a cool harmonica sequence emerges. Thomas sings "And in time you'll find a way to better yourself, to plan to break on through". Another short harmonica solo announces my fav part of the song...when the electric guitar comes in. There's a banjo in this song too for a brief second. The song seems to build up the same way again, when Thomas sings "cuz you've found a friend", but it instead goes into an acoustic guitar part that's really nice. Subtlely it waltzes along the same way as the intro. It ends with Thomas playing an acoustic riff very highly tuned. Coolness.
09 Love's Lost
One of the lesser songs on the album. It's prolly the most poppy song the album. Even the drum beat is poppy, while on most songs...the percussion is very carefully composed, with a cymbal or tambourine placed on specific moments. Not on this track. Still is a fairly decent track. I like the electric guiitar work...with the brief build-up thingy around 2:50 in the song. Solid track, but nothing otherworldly...this album could use a track to return to some relativity I guess.
A lovely little song there. It starts with a very nifty guitar intro. The guitar work reminds me alot of Nick Drake or Elliott Smith...very well. I love the way the harmonica compliments. The chorus is marvelous...with Thomas providing both primary and backing vocals. The percussion is very horse like...as if it's played on the pace of a running horse. The second chorus is even more arranged. It's another magical song. "I'll be needing you as long as memory fails from time to time".
A nice instrumental to close the album out. That's one of Thomas Dybdahls signatures. Beautiful guitar work, nice soothing organs. It kinda drifts over and out...it has no real direction. It's just a beautiful little piece of music. Perfect closer.
I've used the word beautiful alot for this review, but there are hardly any words for it. If you like listening to guys like Nick Drake, Elliott Smith, Jeff Buckley, Becks Sea Change album....you'll cream your pants hearing this guy. He's that good. Aside from the two weak spots (Postulate and Love's Lost) every song is absolutely perfect into the very detail. It's rare to find such replayability in this type of music. I sure hope you won't be turned off by the fact that this guy is relatively unknown outside Europe...because he's definately worth checking out.