Singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Kevin Hays weighs equally as a modern jazz performer as he does being an adult contemporary contender. He displays both sides of his musicality on his latest release The Dreamer from the innovative Artist Share Records. Hays works with a sparse team of musicians that includes bassist Doug Weiss, drummer Bill Stewart, and backup vocalist Hillary Smith while Hays sings and plays a vast array of keyboards, percussion tools and the wood flute. Produced by Hays and co-produced by Luis Guerra, The Dreamer has a lounging after-dinner cruise ambience, setting a laid-back mood by candlelight. The neutral pigments and comfy chromed graphite texture of the tunes have the melodic consistency of Josh Groban and the finessed couture of Italy’s Nicola Congiu. The Dreamer is one of those albums that never grows old, its repertoire is timeless.
The harmonious blend of keyboard shades and lounging grooves along "Sco More Blues" and the title track move with the gracefulness of winged seahorses. The candlelight ambience of "You" and "A Question" are drenched in tepid cubes as the keyboard palette weaves a tapestry of calm pastures and wispy ruffles. The cruising surf of "Little Flower" is chromed in warm hues as Hays’ breathy vocals lift off from the wharf reflecting, "Little flower / How do you come to be and grow so strong? / What storm passed through / Through which you flew .... Little flower, be your hours / So that you’ll find such love and sunshine / Lovely flower, be mine." The swizzles made by the melodica act as a halo surrounding Hays’ voice and giving this song an ethereal feel.
The album takes a festive stride on "Twilight" with melodic phrases that pick up the pace of their churning and diagonal angles. The slow tempo of "Waltz For Perrin" moves with baby steps, tenderly blotting keyboard notes and stitching chord progressions gradually. The lounging grooves and whistles of "Outsider Man" produce a tropical safari of melodic patterns that bloom and taper intermittently as the mellow beats of "Sunday" adhere to conventional jazz principles moving in elliptical pathways. The straight ahead jazz schematics of "Santa Fe Nights" are suctioned to an upbeat tempo while trickles of eclectic techno effects enliven the track and segue into the avant tones of "The Dream" which compounds fluttering flute logs and native Indian textures with tingling wind chimes and creamy jazz-styled vocals.Kevin Hays creates an attractive calmness in his music with the capacity to make one imagine taking a cruise on a riverboat, and enjoying the lovely scenery as it passes by and beckons visitors to its sanctum. The Dreamer is an album that joins modern jazz with adult contemporary and even drills a bit of the eclectic into the mix. The songs take the listener on a safari that is aurally lovely and never loses it appeal.