Robert Crenshaw – Dog Dreams
On his third release, Robert Crenshaw taps into the same pop-rock pioneer spirit that characterized the early catalogue of his brother Marshall — a series of albums on which, not coincidentally, Robert contributed drums and harmonies.
Dog Dreams features the same Brill Building/Beatles/Bobby Fuller echoes that earned Marshall’s old-wave-sounding songs such as “Cynical Girl” the new-wave brand in the early ’80s. Cementing that connection is the liner-notes tidbit that the orchestral bells on the sleepy, Brian Wilson-esque “Fade Away” are the same ones that were used on “Cynical Girl”.
Elsewhere, there’s “Girl Next Door”, which exhibits the high drama of a girl-group smash, complete with Spectorish production touches, while “Lay Down” adds a rock ‘n’ roll crackle to a similar blueprint. The cover songs also fit the mood, with live takes on Jackie DeShannon’s ode to unrequited giddiness “Every Time You Walk Into The Room” and “If Not For You” (the latter much more George Harrison than Dylan, or Olivia for that matter), plus a studio version of the Vogues’ “Five O’Clock World”.
The lone recent non-original, “I Woke Up”, comes from Don Dixon, another artist with a fondness for the heart and, especially, the soul of ’60s music. (Dixon guests, as does his wife Marti Jones, co-producer and all-around ace popguy Jamie Hoover, well-traveled bassist Graham Maby, and a couple Crenshaw brothers named Marshall and John.) Let a skilled veteran craftsman loose with shiny melodies — some newly conceived, others time-tested — and it can’t help but lead to something dreamy.