"Stray Dogs" is Thomas Dybdahls second solo album. It has the same magical production as his other albums, but Thomas' songwriting is a bit more straight up, than on the brilliant That Great October Sound album. Though a bit less consistient, this album has some captivating moments. The eargasms seem to pile up, that take take the toll on the listening experience at times..because this album isn't as dynamic and diverse as TGOS. This record is more focussed on Thomas' beautiful singing voice, and lthe melodies are less complex. But if you by chance liked "That Great October Sound", this is another must have.
1. Rain Down On Me
A very slow nice ballad. Lyrically, it's noting special. Thomas' singing is fantastic, with such emotion, just very moving. Especially at 5:20 in the song, when the song seems to go a bit more extravert, then holds back again, and becomes beaitiful in a more modest way. I just love the outlet this moment in the song brings.
Another beautiful song. The intro suggests another slow ballad, yet a very cutting egde acoustic guitar appears, giving the song it's drive. The song is almost effortlessly beautiful with a pretty catchy chorus. I love it when Thomas sings "Here I am. flesh and bones"...displaying his voice's nice depth. In the second, a female vocalist appears, who's also heard in a few more songs.
3. Make A Mess Of Yourself
Such a beautiful song, the vocals are immediately accessibly gorgeous. This song is just raw emotion. This is definately one of the highlights of this album. The female vocalist appears again for backing vocals in a stripped out part in the bridge. After that, Thomas delivers a very minimalist guitar solo.
4. Pale Green Eyes
If you were blown away by the previous track...don't cream your pants hearing this one. Without a doubt one of the most amazing things I've ever heard from any artist. The song starts out like a beautiful lullabye, with ambience caused by vibraphones, percussion and strange squeeking noises. Then the whispering female vocalist suddenly appears counting 1-2-3 in Norwegian...this is just so intimate. It sounds as if she is standing right next to you whispering warmly in your ear. Then the magical guitars appear, lingering in their beauty as Thomas starts to sing. You're then greeted with the tension building drums and dreamy piano staccato's. After the song settles down once again...it then molds into this glorious pop song with some of these most glorious lush arrangements...it's just mindblowing. I can't describe it in detail. Perhaps you should listen to it yourself. Just otherworldly, the intro alone...not to mention this song as a whole. Just...wow.
5. Either Way I'm Gone
After "Pale Green Eyes"...it's pretty hard to move on. This song begins with nice introvert guitar melody. With this song, it once again how beautiful these albums are produced. Either Way I'm Gone would be a straight up folk ballad with 'ordinary' production. The brooding organs sound almost alive with the unique intimate clean euphoric production. It's got some great melodies, and a nice guitar solo midway through the bridge. The amazing part of Thomas' what he displays here is that the music has so many instruments, but never do you have the impression that the song loses it's intimacy.
Some soothing brass ambience in the intro. It's another slower piano driven song fading in gradually. The chorus has a backing choir backing Thomas. It sounds like a triumphant love song. You hear Thomas cough before the second verse, but that's not bothersome. Nice piano solo near the end, that remains until all the other instruments are faded out.
7. Rise In Shame
A beautiful intro, full of instruments working well together. Just another amazing song, what can I say. Everytime Thomas seems to sing in the verses the music settles down again to build up into another wonderful exodus of melodic prowess.Once again, Thomas shows what incredible range he has with his voice. The song ends with a beautiful little acoustic guitar solo guided by the organs.
8. Stray Dogs
A short little song, but it has vocals and lyrics so I don't consider it a filler. The strange elctronic squeeks return here too.
9. The Willow
A stunning a-cappella intro. Thomas the counts in Norwegian. This song is very piano driven, but Thomas plays some nice guitar stuff in this as well. The vocals are a bit distorted in the chorus. Just another solid track right there. It has a bit of a gospel-like vibe in my opinion.
10. Stay Home
This is one of the most emotive songs on this album...despite that the entire album is fu of emotional stuff. The guitar melody is nothing special...but that gorgeous cello is just amazing. It makes me cry. And when Thomas sings the opening lyrics it just...well...no words for it. Later in the song, there are some cut up string melodies, they don't really serve a purpose...but the emotion of Thomas' voice never makes it bothersome. It's his voice that makes this song. In the ending of the song, the piano seems to force it's way in, almost forcing the other melodies to retreat until it fades.
A weird intstrumental, with the strange squeeking noises...it's just ambient stuff...more suited for setting the mood. Pretty functional as closer.
This album is amazing, so full of emotion and musical beauty. Thomas Dybdahl is one of the most talented young songwriters today. The only beef I have with "Stray Dogs" is that there might be too much beautiful music on this album...making it hard to come to your senses. I still rate his previous album "That Great October Sound" as his best...but this has some moments that easily match. It's worth your time.