Dexter Freebish – Shine On
2010, Copper Moon Records
Dexter Freebish rocketed into the national consciousness in 1999, winning the John Lennon Songwriting Contest with a number entitled “Leaving Town”. The win led to a recording contract with Capitol Records and a top-40 single from their debut album Life Of Saturdays. The relationship with Capital Records didn’t last long due to creative differences, but going independent never stopped the Austin’s quartet’s flirtations with success. Two additional albums have seen Dexter Freebish land multiple songs on MTV’s The Real World, as well as placement in several video games and the movie Superman Returns, as well as racking up a second John Lennon Songwriting Competition Award in 2004. After a six year hiatus, Dexter Freebish returned in October of 2010 with Shine On, their best work to date.
Shine On opens with “Wide Awake”, a highly catchy piece of pure pop music with a chorus that will ring in your ears. This is the sort of tune that will have people running to Google to find out who sings it. “Save The Last Dance” is in the same vein; highly danceable pop/rock with great harmonies. The energy here is amazing. “Do You Want To” shows off distinctive harmonies ala Yes or 1980’s Asia in a tune vaguely reminiscent of classic Rolling Stones. “Made Some Friends Along The Way” shows a solid U2 influence in a soul searching tune full of big airs in a wide open arrangement. “When The Sun Shines” maintains Dexter Freebish’s big pop momentum before moving into the album’s apex, “Shine On”. “Shine On” could be either a love song or a song about making dreams come true; either interpretation works, but ultimately it’s a great pop song. “Beautiful Girl” is a low key pop love song whose greatest weapon is the subtlety and touch in the songwriting.
Dexter Freebish returns in fine style with “Shine On”; their most well rounded and complete work to date. You don’t win the John Lennon songwriting contest twice for no reason, but Dexter Freebish continues their tradition of writing stand out songs. Even if the industry at large and pop radio don’t pay attention, this turns out to be one of the more satisfying pop/rock albums of the past year.
Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)