reviewed by Kaitlin Ruether
It’s these last weeks in February that can evoke the dread of never-ending winter, and Patrick Dunphy knows the feeling. Seasons Changing is the debut solo record from the former frontman of Montreal-based indie rock band King Karoshi, and it focuses on all the feelings that so often come with the long Canadian winter: loss, loneliness, and identity. Having played unplugged for years in yoga studios to silent audiences, Dunphy knows how to create a melody and allow it to float above a crush of restrained emotion.
In the five song EP, Patrick Dunphy bounces between two modes: Thom Yorke-style lingering notes that create a heavy atmosphere (album opener “Who Would I Be?” is the strongest example), and folk-pop gentle pieces that tell the larger stories painted with a broader stroke (as on “Seasons Changing”). When Dunphy is able to move between both in a single song, his style becomes refined in new and organic ways. “Writing’s On the Wall” is an album highlight for the heaviness it opens with and how it lifts with melodic hooks and instrumental accumulation. When he holds onto a note, Dunphy’s voice pulls you by the hand, moving forward towards change.
Thematically the album explores the spaces in-between — perhaps primed by the yoga studio performance spots. Even the EP title, Seasons Changing, implies a lack of stasis, an unknowing. Dunphy establishes this with the use of questions in his songwriting that come at the beginning of the EP (“Who Would I Be?”) and again at the end with “Cycles” which asks an impossible what-if: “What if we’d been younger? We wouldn’t have been so petty”. He wields a stripped down-acoustic sound like a tidal wave, ready to strike with growing turmoil. Though, despite the personal grappling and themes of uncertainty, the EP ends on a positive thought: “It’s making sense to me,” Dunphy declares.
If years spent creating in a liminal space to a silent audience has informed Patrick Dunphy’s craft, we can only hold on for what will follow the unique explorations that Seasons Changing brings, and where he has decided to land after such introspection.
Top Track: “Writing’s On the Wall”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)