Tame Impala’s Cameron Avery released his debut solo album Ripe Dreams, Pipe Dreams on March 10th, and it is truly something else. Avery exudes class not only through his smooth voice, but also through the melodic compositions of each song to make up the album as a whole.
Ripe Dreams, Pipe Dreams starts off with a beautiful soft tune that is stripped down and comparable to Sinatra with the intricate guitar plucking of “A Time and Place.” Avery’s echoing vocals give a look into the depths of his soul through this raw and real tune. This mellow, yet intimate sound carries on to track two, “Do You Know Me By Heart,” which also features Avery’s crooning vocals accompanied by a string quartet as he expresses his unrequited love.
The third track titled “Dance With Me” was also the third single taken from the album which was released with a dramatic music video starring Alexa Chung about a week ago. This song struck me as slightly odd upon first listen, but has quickly grown on me since listening to it within the whole scope of the album. It begins with a steady and powerful drum beat and Avery’s deep, sultry voice as he talk-sings his command to dance with him.
While the album starts strong and allows Avery to showcase his incredible vocal range, the middle few songs of the album are perhaps my three favorite from the album. “Wasted On Fidelity,” the second single from the album, is the first to speed things up, and while it features the same deep, full drums at the forefront, it is much more up beat than the first few tracks. Avery explores the mindset that he had to give himself “to the sure things, the simple and the bored things” in order to buy and obtain happiness. This brooding ideology is easy to overlook with the sound of the song as a whole, but not completely forgotten with the lyrics: “I’m wasted on fidelity as I edge upon insanity, it’s just been a battering rhapsody for me.”
Avery quickly lets us know that he is a master at overlaying his vocals to harmonize with himself with the astoundingly alluring bridge in “Big Town Girl” (which he also nails when he performs live). In this track he details his pining for “Jane” and asks if he “could suit her better than her dark blue sweater?” and immediately responds, “probably not.” If there’s one song to listen to on this album, it’s probably this one, if only just for that haunting bridge that is enough to make you cry because of how good it is.
“Disposable” begins with perhaps one of the lowest tones Avery hits on the album as he begins to navigate his way through the lyrical minefield that he sets up for himself. This song deals with themes of self-deprecation as he acknowledges that he’s “useful, but disposable.”
After a quick musical intermission with “The Cry of Captain Hollywood,” Ripe Dreams, Pipe Dreams gets right back into the swing of things with the grittiest, dirtiest track of the album, “Watch Me Take It Away.” This one is interesting as it changes the beat a number of times in a way that almost doesn’t flow together to make a coherent song, but somehow still pulls it off, only to return to the quick and steady hand-clapping that the song begins with.
“Watch Me Take It Away” sharply contrasts with the swift strings that start off the next track titled, “An Ever Jarring Moment.” However, this track is similar to its predecessor as the chorus comes in with what sounds like could be a completely different track. Avery disrupts the verses to deliver a dramatic, emotionally charged chorus as he utilizes the string quartet to take him back and forth between the two. This romantic track ends with the repetitious outro as Avery inquires, “you and I, we’re holding on but what for?” From the exotic sounding verses to the flourishing chorus to the emotional outro, this song truly is “ever jarring.”
This repetitive quality follows into the next tune titled, “C’est Toi,” which we quickly discover translates to “it’s you” (if you didn’t already know). Avery croons, “baby, it’s you” a number of times before taking off with this true and proper love song. Avery further dabbles in themes of self-deprecation as he sings, “I’m only half as good as the sum of my mistakes, the cut of my tuxedo, the icing on my cake,” but he doesn’t let that stop him from expressing his love.
The album closes with a truly intriguing eight minute ballad in which Avery talks about someone named Stacy and her “half-cocked, locked, and stocked .44” over a bass line and drum beat that possesses a western-type feel. Between minutes of kind of grotesque imagery (“Stacy told me to give her my car, my day’s take, or she’d spray the back wall with my cerebellum”), Avery and a gospel choir break out on multiple occasions to further the song along. This cleverly written, assonance and consonance-filled story about “the last and best bet I ever made” ends abruptly with the title question, “Whoever Said Gambling’s For Suckers?”
Ripe Dreams, Pipe Dreams provides a different, compelling listening experience that cannot be equaled by any other album. Cameron Avery possesses a distinct vocal range that is shown off from front to back and provokes you to keep it on repeat.
“A Time and Place”
“Do You Know Me By Heart”
“Big Town Girl”
“The Cry of Captain Hollywood”
Buy Ripe Dreams, Pipe Dreams through Cameron Avery’s official store here.
Buy Ripe Dreams, Pipe Dreams on Amazon here.
Buy Ripe Dreams, Pipe Dreams on iTunes here.
Listen to Ripe Dreams, Pipe Dreams on Spotify here.
Catch Cameron Avery on tour near you.