All at once a self never known before, which now strikes you as the true one, is coming into focus. A gust of godlikeness may pass through you and for an instant a great many things look knowable, possible and present. Then the edge asserts itself. You are not a god. You are not that enlarged self. Indeed, you are not even a whole self, as you now see. Your new knowledge of possibilities is also a knowledge of what is lacking in the actual.
– Anne Carson (Eros the Bittersweet)
Ian Kehoe (Marine Dreams) sings about the big stuff. Friendship (“Michael”), love (“Polished Stones”), and many of life’s great unanswered questions (“One Question”). Yet he manages to offer us these personal musing in a gentle way. They do not overwhelm but instead, as Anne Carson writes, help us to understand our thoughts, feelings, and actions just a little bit more.
Producer’s Wonderland is entirely record and composed by Kehoe in his home studio. There’s a warmth that comes from the record that reflects the atmosphere which it was created in. The creaks a home makes in the morning, the way the late afternoon sun warms the cold tiles of the kitchen floor, the smell of the pile of shoes near the door. All that makes a home, nurtures the record’s sincerity and emotions.
Instrumentally, Kehoe crafts his songs with four main elements: vocal harmonies, acoustic guitar, synth, and programmed drum beats. Though he never strays from this combination, Kehoe makes this steady mix soar.
“Snake Fish” and “Sunny Starry Moon” both have a, dare I say, groovy beat to them while the opener “One Question” and the following “Polished Stone” have a more relaxed rhythm. One of the most pleasant qualities found in both of these sides, which for Marine Dreams fans is already known, is Kehoe’s vocals. Kehoe’s airy falsetto floats above his instrumental compositions to make a beautiful combo.
Harmonizing…with himself, “No Use” has one of Kehoe’s strongest vocal displays. Musing about the making music, Kehoe delivers a sweet sounding chorus that gets better with every repetition and masks the uncertainties that the lyrics discuss.
Inspired by Anne Carson’s book “Eros The Bittersweet,” Producer’s Wonderland’s first single “Love (after Eros The Bittersweet)” is the best introduction to the record. The sweet voice of Kehoe and a synth beat, that at first may seem like unusual but settles into a perfect choice, carries the repetition of the line “love is the notion of self as desired,” to a meditative place.
Producer’s Wonderland is a listeners wonderland.
Top Tracks: “No Use,” “Love (after Eros The Bittersweet)”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)