Good Night for Daydreams, released by Portland-based band Gunther Brown, shows expert songwriting matched with classic Americana styling.
The regular hard-strummed acoustic guitar is an excellent compliment to vocals that are deep and gritty, but not muddy. The drums sit on top of the beat, giving rhythms that bounce, and hard thumping and simple bass lines create a rock-solid foundation. Classic Stratocaster bell-like tone adds country character to round-out all tracks.
This album’s simple instrumentation allows for excellent songwriting to stand on its own. “Forever,” for example, starts the album off in a tried and true way. An upbeat and raucous shuffle rhythm paired with only a few chords lets excellent lyrics stand out. A pessimistic story about unrequited love is stated well with, “Should have raised a glass to you and what’s-his-name / wished you life, love and happiness,” followed by, “This won’t last forever.”
“Christ of the American Road,” a slower track, follows suit with its generally sad subject matter. A story of a down-and-out road warrior is made serious with lyrics that go, “Picking up a roadside girl / to show her pictures of his long lost world / and of a little boy who must be ten by now.” Although this song is made up of only a few chords, a genuine feeling is put forth. The band drives home feelings of desperation and loneliness with their instrumentation too, so the vibe isn’t solely lyrical. Three chords are played for all they are worth, encapsulating the undefinable quality of “heart.”
Although the tunes on Good Nights for Daydreams could be picked apart all day to make light of their creativity and soul, that’s not the point. To really understand this album, tracks have to be listened to in their whole form. The most admirable thing about Gunther Brown is their ability to create something that amounts to more than a mere sum of parts. On a compartmentalized level, this album is guitar, drums, bass and some story-telling. But Good Nights for Daydreams is really a product of interaction. This creates a sound that can only be understood by realizing the interdependence between band members and listening to tracks in their entirety.
Gunther Brown describes themselves as Americana, but that is an extremely broad classification. Good Nights for Daydreams shows a small new piece being carved into the genre that will hopefully be acknowledged and appreciated.