Review Summary: Is it all as it should be?
Taking a break from the “Act” album series, Providence’s The Dear Hunter release another EP. Examining this format extensively in the past already, this time around Crescenzo et al took ideas and themes for songs from a number of hardcore TDH fans that the band has been acquinted with for years (not limited to the realm of backstage beerfests and smelly touring buses), and made these into a short song cycle, “All Is As All Should Be”.
With a total running time of 26 minutes and the longest track only just over 5 minutes long, it stands in stark contrast to their last two albums.
Musically however, the album is quite similar to the last two “Act” albums (IV en V). Comfortably moving between styles, the music as always is characterized most by Crescenzo’s amazing voice and the colorful instrumentation. Most of the progressive rock meanderings are left out this time around with opener “The Right Wrong” being the hardest rocking track here, and follow up “Blame Paradise” being the only track really exemplifying TDH’s prog background. With its angular synth motifs and weird verse vocal melody it takes some time to get used to but in the end proves to be one of the best tracks on here.
“Beyond The Pale” and “Shake Me (Awake)”, seem to be two parts of one long epic song that were later cut up in two separate songs for the sake of the EP format. The former being a quiet, not very uplifting (and maybe a tad boring) track, the latter takes all of TDH’s pop rock sentiment and pours it into a magnificent earworm. It has a typical TDH happy/melancholy melody with evenly twofold lyrics about the longing for a more meaningful existence on the one hand and a seize-the-day sentiment on the other.
With an album title suggesting a sense of comfort at a given time, the song lyrics are contradictory on more occasions than mentioned above; Lyrics like:
“…the valley between who I am,
And who I want you to see,
Is too vast to bypass….”
“..Will no one witness me"
Do I exist, or did I fall into darkness"...”
(from “Witness Me”)
“…Come shake me awake,
And pull me far away,
From the endless circles I’ve been running in,
I’ve had about all I can take,
So take me far away,
To a life that’s far less ordinary…”
(from “Shake me (Awake)”
suggest to the listener that the protagonist might be somewhat uncomfortable in his current state.
On the other hand there’s lines like:
“…despite all my skeletons,
I see, all is as all should be…”
(from “The Right Wrong”)
“…but at the end when you’re looking out through my eyes,
You’ll see that all is as all should be..”
(from “All Is As All Should Be”)
that suggest a certain degree of resignation in the protagonist. This duality is certainly felt throughout the album and not in a god way. It feels uplifting at times and meaningful and deep at others. The theme that’s supposed to tie the EP together works a bit counterproductive and unfortunately acts more as a divisive force than a binding force here.
All this doesn’t take away from the fact that this is one very enjoyable listen with a couple of standout moments and very enjoyable musicianship throughout. The EP as a whole however falls into the mediocre category of TDH’s output. Given the super high quality of the rest of their discography, this “mediocre” EP is still way better than most albums released this year and thus will probably make it to my end of the year list for 2017.