The Dream Exchange
2014 / John Luttrell/Ottersong Records
Review by Kathy Parsons
With one of the cutest and most appealing album covers I’ve seen in awhile, John Luttrell’s The Dream Exchange grabs your attention, piques your interest, and then soothes your stresses and worries away with close to an hour of warm, optimistic music that works seamlessly in the background or as music that flows in and out of close listening attention. Calling his music “atmospheric music” takes it in a somewhat different direction from “new age” or “ambient” because it’s both and yet neither from a purist standpoint. With elements of prog rock, the album features Luttrell on acoustic and electric guitars as well as keyboards with twelve songs that follow the theme of exchanging dreams. In the liner notes, Luttrell explains: “Throughout our lives we share our dreams with family and friends, and they share their dreams with us. If we're lucky we can help them activate and achieve their dreams and also work on achieving our own. How wonderful it is to experience and share in this Dream Exchange.” A lifelong musician who has lived and absorbed cultural influences from all over the world, Luttrell’s music reflects many of these influences and gives him a very distinctive sound.
The Dream Exchange begins with “Orange Sky,” a piece that combines dreamy atmospheric sounds with a gently-floating guitar melody and a lively rhythm that comes and goes - a very effective opening! “The Sphere” contains a variety of styles and is possibly one of the more prog rock pieces. From Hawaiian guitar to electric rock guitar over ambient musical and atmospheric sounds, it has no hard edges while continuously evolving as it develops. “Dreamcast” is a favorite. Slow and graceful with a shimmering beauty, it reminds me of watching a sunset by the ocean. The title track opens with the sound of rain and thunder and then the electric guitar enters, evoking images of the sun breaking through the storm clouds. From there, guitars express tones of peaceful calm and tranquility - also a favorite. I love the title “Somnambulistic Journey,” and the misty, dreamy music is the perfect accompaniment to a peaceful sleepwalking expedition. “Ethereal Raga” combines a catchy rhythm and mysterious ambient sounds to create colorful images that dance slowly in atmospheric clouds - fascinating! “Inland Returned” is light and fanciful with acoustic and electric guitars leading the way with a gentle smile. “With You” brings the album to a close with an easy, swaying rhythm and feelings of blissful contentment.
The Dream Exchange is quiet, relaxing music with plenty of substance to hold your interest while letting your imagination fly. It is available from Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Recommended!
August 15, 2014