We got a good one for ya today, folks. Dream I Had is the latest from Myrtle Beach’s Quinn Cicala. The acoustically driven solo project couples the straightforwardness of punk with some wooden-porch folksiness that screams the DIY we love around here and highlights the content of the lyrics. Although Cicala has pumped out a boatload of demos, this is his first proper album since 2014.
The eight-track album is a good listen start to finish, but I’ll start by highlighting some favorites. Cicala’s first track, “In a Diner in Poughkeepsie,” does a great job of ushering you into his world with some welcoming strings and strums. The vocals are raw and he leans into a subtle twang within drawn out syllables and professes frustration and a desire for contentment. With that, he paints a picture and validates it further with recordings of a friendly conversation about cars. Cicala weaves in and out of the fullness of a band and the stripped-downedness of him and his guitar as he pushes lyrics out with alternating vigor and intimacy. At its tail-end, the track comes to an invigorating and refreshing crescendo that almost made me exhale an audible “ah” like I was in a goddamn Sprite commercial.
The second track, “Dreams,” features a killer line in “I think that we forget ourselves and all of the good things like breakfast foods and being able to breathe.” The first verse sets a scene before an immensely satisfying introduction of trumpet and psychedelic guitar. While “Home 2” boasts another line that made me stop and take note “I want my dog to be young again while I grow old...”
“Country” is a short, sweet peck on the cheek, but I think the second to last track, “From Miami to Portland” ties up with the first track as my favorite. For me, this Willy Mason-esque kinda marriage of punk and folk is ripe for storytelling and Quinn Cicala is a real raconteur with this one. Beyond the sweet-ass riff on keys in this track, the lyrics tell a story of a seemingly innocuous encounter that spurred some real thought. I think Cicala excels at this--at telling stories of daily life and past experience and using them as a vehicle to express self-frustration, introspection, or purge emotion.
Dream I Had is a wonderful change of pace. It’s not poetically structured in the traditional sense. This collage of thoughts and experiences is like a stream of consciousness that spills stories out onto a table and we’re lucky to watch them scatter across its surface. Keep an eye for Quinn Cicala, maybe he’ll be playing in a basement or venue near you very soon.