Hunter Sheridan’s glass is neither half-empty nor half-full. It is simply a glass. And glasses are complicated.
On his new album “Life is a Dream,” the alt-folk crooner from Canada examines all the nuances made possible by the record’s deceptively simple title. Dreams don’t make any sense. They are neither good nor bad. They are gorgeous and terrifying, with competing emotions constantly overlapping one another. Through thoughtful poetic imagery and beautiful understated acoustic arrangements, Hunter delivers a love letter to life. But this is not some idealized bit of fiction like most love letters. This is about real love, and real life… warts and all.
After five years of nation-wide tours and album promotions with his band West Hammock, in 2018 Hunter embarked on a solo career. A series of singles released last year eventually led to the full-length “Life is a Dream.” On his way there, Hunter racked up some impressive stats. To date the single “Skin and Bones” has earned over 50K streams on Spotify. His introspective songs of self-discovery, life and love have connected with listeners across the globe.
“Life is a Dream” showcases Sheridan’s softly soulful sound and a smart, insightful lyricism. Musically the album features a simple guitar, bass, and drum arrangement. Subtle keys occasionally fade in and out of the mix, and there is some really beautiful cello on the title track. However, the real stars of the show are the interwoven guitars and soothing vocal harmonies. On each song Hunter’s acoustic guitar trades lines and shares space with an impeccably executed Nashville-tinged bluesy electric guitar. Vocally, Hunter’s folky blue-eyed soul is perfectly paired with the smooth harmony of backup singer Jules Hall.
Lyrically, Hunter Sheridan’s songs exist deep in the middle of Yin and Yang of love, life and reality. These songs celebrate the complexity of human emotion. For every “I love you” there is an “I’m sorry.” On the opening track “Better than Yesterday” he sings, “Wishing on the stars above, but I know better.” It is idealism and realism, complimenting and contradicting one another in the same breath. That dichotomy exists throughout the record. Bittersweet sentiments drive songs like “This Time I Know,” where positive affirmation also hints at failures of the past.
These point and counterpoint observations are not negative, they are simply real. For instance, in the song “What you Need” Hunter sings, “I’ll be what you want, I’ll be what you need. Just don’t let it get too far from you.” It is both a promise and a warning, and it is beautiful. The writing style brings to mind the McCartney /Lennon “It’s getting better all the time/It couldn’t get much worse” dynamic.
Both musically and lyrically, “Fire Fades” is a real high point of the record. It’s line, “Life goes by, just like the good times” encapsulates the mood perfectly. And the song “Skin and Bones” is excellent, featuring stellar guitar playing and my favorite lyric I’ve heard in weeks, “All that I know is that I’m just made of skin and bones.”
Hunter Sheridan’s “Life is a Dream” is available on all major streaming services. You can hear “Skin and Bones’ on the Deep Indie Dive playlist. and follow the links below to connect with the artist. Stay in the loop on all of his current and future releases.