I’m a fan of King Dylan.
He recorded the theme song for my on again, off again podcast: The RobCast. He came in on the snowiest days to hang out on my morning show in Airdrie. He’s just an overall good dude.
And he’s pretty good at music too.
A YYC Music award winner, picking up Pop Recording of the Year and Music Video of the Year in 2017 for “Untouchable”, King Dylan released his 5th solo album; “In The Darkness, We Can Shine” earlier this year. Dylan has also recoded as a member of The D.C. Show, and Broken Ride.
He invited me out to grab some pics and video of his album release party at The Rec Room, where I picked up a vinyl copy of his latest effort. I couldn’t help but review it in hopes one other person reads this, and falls in love with King Dylan.
When The Stars Burn Out
An amazingly catchy first track. Within the first minute you experience the many skills of King Dylan. His humor right off the bat, his semi-automatic spits, and his pop bars… all wrapped up into a nice little package. The horns used throw back to a Pet Shop Boys vibe. A high spirited highlight of his goofy nature, but in a serious pop track.
The song starts with the admission of how awkward he can be, and he’s OK with that. It continues with a girl pulling a 180 on her view of the award winner with nice legs. A great lesson in self esteem, and how confidence is an amazing tool to ensure comfort in whatever situation put in front of you. It’s not cocky, it’s knowing who you are and being OK with that. Chelsea Heaslip, who co-wrote the track, lends her amazing voice to the track as the jaded female.
Upon another listening after digging into the common theme, it almost feels like avoidance by Dylan’s character, and mutual diversion by the female until success comes into play. Shallowness isn’t what was needed at the time, but someone “better than you”.
Take Me Alive
One of the great things about King Dylan is his ability to take inspiration from almost anywhere. Living in Cowtown, it’s not hard to hear a little country twang in the track. Joined by Mindseed, the two vocal leads manage to match each other’s energy while bringing their own unique styles to the track. Easy pop track to listen to.
Not every song needed to hit the theme of underlying pain, but I know that when things are dark, escape is needed. Mundane can take over, but if you fight it it will never take you alive, even at your lowest point.
Pull Me Closer
Lighter fare slows things down for the 4th track. At his Album Release Party, the images of attendees slow dancing pop in my head with the first few notes. A nice and easy pop tune, again showing King Dylan’s versatility. We all need a little more happiness, even from a stranger, right?
Everyone has a bad day every once and a while. How an individual copes with those days is different. One could assume that how Dylan copes is with pen and pad. His, and GQ’s lyrics aren’t directed at anyone, they seem to be a moment of self reflection of how they got into a mess, and how they plan to get out. A good follow-up track to the slower “Pull Me Closer” as it keeps that more mellow mood.
And then things get cranked back up with the more intense track with MC Mossberg. More uptempo, more verbally intense. When I heard the track the first time, I imagined it being a great track behind sports highlights, as it speaks to the trials, tribulations, and sacrifice it take sto “make it”… to win. “We’ve all been broken, we’re warriors” is a battle cry that many need to hear.
Anger can sometimes breed amazing. Underneath seems to be a lesson on how cathartic music can be. Again, another track that sounds like it came from a dark place, that attempts to punch the listener in the face to make everyone feel better. The call out becomes quite personal when you start to think what you, the listener, are hiding “underneath your smile”. As he does so well all album, King Dylan becomes relatable when he calls out his own pain and what he has attempted to hide.
Dylan clarified this for me adding “Underneath your smile is about shady people (he’s) met in music”. This is completely understandable that “fame” may not want to know the real you, until they need something from you. As an outsider, I can understand that completely.
No Good For You
Album placement is something I love trying to figure out. Case in point with where this track ends up. It’s a continuation of the self depreciation heard on “Underneath”, but more a call out to anyone who doesn’t see value in the fight. While there’s broken pieces, there’s value. And anyone who can’t see that in someone will “be sorry I’m gone”. Again, where confidence in where you are, how you are treated, and who you should be around. A common theme of the album.
Get Out Of This Town
At this point, you really get the understanding that this album isn’t a manufactured pop/rock album recorded by someone who doesn’t understand where the tracks come from. I’m starting to understand the album title, “In The Darkness, We Can Shine”, and it’s not the “shine” we put on to fool everyone, but the “shine” that comes from darkness… where you learn that good comes from bad, healing from hurt. What would be different if you made one change? What if you let go? What is the thing holding you back? The self-awareness that lies within this track is infectious.
Dylan also reached out to me on this one, clarifying that it was about “the depression (he) felt after a big break up and (his) Dad getting sick.”
Play That Song Again
And the pain reveals itself. King Dylan lost his father to Cancer, and the lyrics tell the story of his loss. When we lose someone close, we want just one more moment with them. You can tell that music brought the two of them together, and by recording this track music will continue the honor a child feels for his parent. Something I fear I could never do to the level of this track. It came as a surprise that something to deep and powerful was left off the 2019 YYC Music Award Nominee list, the balls to share something so personal and to put it to something that has amazing re-listenability is the perfect way to end the album. You could hear something was bothering Dylan through every track, almost like a “American Idiot”-esk mellow drama. And in the end, we find out what.
By the end of the album, and this review, it’s interesting to see how you can see the deterioration of the subject, and by the end how broken he is. And the why hits like an understandable epiphany. One can only hope that they handle loss with such bravery and creativity to honor the lost the way King Dylan has with “In The Darkness, We Can Shine”, and to know that it will all be OK. Somehow, it will all be OK.