Chris St. John’s Releases Musical Odyssey
From New York, NY Chris St. John’s I’m Dreaming is a musical odyssey for those brave enough to deal with the rocky waters. That’s not a knock on the music itself, it’s all fantastic. Filled with heart and a distinct vocal performance from St. John that will reverberate in your heart and soul. Across an hour, we hear the story of an everyman starting with the fantastic “I need a horse” that serves as a fantastic thematic intro to what the album is about. It kind of reminds me of “I want to be a producer” from the musical “The Producers”, in which an everyday office man has stifled his dreams about what he really wants, despite a seemingly perfect life. By the time things kick into the chorus and his heart is soaring, it touches that specific part of your brain that can relate to your most inner desire. Wanting a horse might not seem like much, but it’s a distinct metaphor for the freedom any person wants.
A lot of the songs start off coming from St. John’s point of view but later transform into full-blown stories with distinct meanings for the listener. It’s not preachy, but it’s authentic. Every song has a point, even the ones without lyrics. Instrumental-wise, it’s fantastic. For a first-time album, you can tell St. John has an earnest and deep appreciation for music in general and almost has a Bruce Springsteen-inspired vibe. This is helped by the kind of “Americana Rock” that he taps into. As the album progresses, St. John begins to strip back natural musical conventions you’d expect with something like this and begins to deconstruct himself.
It has the feeling of watching someone in a packed room performing, but as he continues more and more people fall into a hushed silence. We become witnesses to the pain he feels, in an almost helplessness where we can only hope that St. John can pull himself out of. He pulls no punches, tackling things like his former alcoholism, and the specific loneliness we feel after the holidays with the especially haunting “The Guests Have Gone Home”, which has the same connotations as Nat King Cole’s “The Party’s Over”, albeit somehow darker. There’s also an incredible cover of “Peggy O” that fits into the context of the album without being the more egotistical musical flex that purveys on other albums that try a similar tactic.
The album isn’t perfect, despite feeling wide and surrounded by texture and sounds that are immaculate, some of the songs run a little long, and with two instrumentals, one in the middle and the album closer, I think a little more succinctness would make it pack even more punch than it already has. If I had to pick one darling to kill, it would probably be “Peggy O”, if only because its themes are tackled just as well over the course of the album by St. John himself. St. John should be proud of this album, and it bodes well for the rest of his sure-to-be astonishing musical career.