Dillon Wyte – Dreamers Rock
Dillon Wyte is a multi-instrumentalist street musician, born in Arkansas, USA. At a young age he started playing the guitar, in time followed by piano, drums, and other instruments. Meanwhile he was, besides by local country and blues music, especially influenced by Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan, giving him confidence to write and sing his own songs.
Wyte eventually took to traveling around the world as a street musician, from the US to Latin America, Europe, and Australia, absorbing more influences. He also met his future wife during these travels, and she was the one who introduced him to reggae music. This became even a strong influence on him, shaping his musical direction. This was noticeable in his first album, a “showcase” album, called Power To Slay Giants, released by Dubophonic in 2016, having relatively many Dubs. This roots reggae-base is also noticeable in this second album of Dillon Wyte, called Dreamers Rock, released in Early 2019. Furthermore Wyte made recent travels to Jamaica, working together and recording with people like Micah Shemaiah, Jah Bami, Rassi Hardknocks and Addis Pablo, which seems to give him some “roots reggae credentials”, being a White American from Arkansas. Not that he seems so pretentious to actively seek such credentials. He is just a skilled musician who loves Reggae music, mixing it here and there with blues, folk and country influences. Nothing wrong with that.
This particular album, Dreamers Rock, consisting of only 8 songs, is not “Dub-heavy”, as his first one, and does not even contain a Dub. The 8 songs are vocal songs, with in all cases a roots reggae musical base. This roots reggae is technically reggae, but of a polished kind, and with other influences. There seems to be a Lovers Rock influence, maybe also because it is partly arranged in Britain. The song structures seem similar to those of many country or also R&B songs: simple, accessible melodies, with recurring, almost standardized chord structures. Perhaps these standards “simplify” the reggae-based backing a bit, making it little adventurous. That is not to say that this album sounds unpleasant: it has overall a nice mellow/groovy flow, is tightly played, and the sound quality is crisp and clear. I only find it too “polished” and bland, with no “rough edges” left. It could all sound more “edgy” or – otherwise said – “playful”, in my opinion.
Wyte’s singing voice is fine, though: a bit folksy, and creatively used. It reminded me both a bit of Tom Petty, as well as of Wyte’s model Bob Dylan. He further remains himself, not singing in a faux Jamaican accent, but neither in an overly “Southern US” accent. Just basic American English. His musical knowledge shows in his effective singing, with quite some reach…. Read: I say specifically the “singing”, for he also tries to “rap” or “toast” on the song Attachment, which sounds quite fake and unnatural. Or let’s just say: bad. Almost funnily so..
What remains are the songs themselves. A mixed bag, I think. Whereas on his debut showcase album some socially conscious lyrics could be found, on Rockers Dream there are only love songs. Here and there I even seem to hear some Beres Hammond influences, also on Wyte’s singing. Some melodies are stronger than others, and some songs therefore too . The better songs are the relatively more playful ones, such as the fine songs Lord Help Me and Shame, while Self Assurance and Attachment are also nice. The other ones moved me less, and were not so catchy. While Wyte’s singing mixes well with the music, and creates a “mellow” vibe overall, what I miss are “memorable” melodies or choruses. This makes some of these songs “forgettable”, even if pleasant- or harmonic-sounding.
This is not helped by the somewhat unimaginative, standard reggae backing: sometimes the bass-drum interaction differs from the common “pumping” reggae path, showing perhaps more a blues/swing influence. There are on the other hand some nice guitar and keyboard riffs, throughout these songs, however, as can be expected from a skilled and experienced guitar and keyboard player like Wyte. The drum patterns follow basic reggae models, with the Rockers style being the most common throughout, maybe explaining the album’s title. The drum could in my opinion be more creative and varied (as in Jamaican reggae), but on the plus side there are nice percussion additions here and there.
Overall, an unspectacular, but fine “mellow-sounding”, tight reggae album, with country and blues influences. It has some nice songs, and some mediocre ones. The songs sound mostly pleasant, but are not very catchy