A seven year absence from the studio was ample time for the creative juices of this seminal Christian rock band to combine into a musical feast big enough to satisfy the hungriest of Daniel Amos fans...
Mr. Buechner's Dream (reissue)
Stunt / Retroactive Records
Disc 1:20 tracks 59 minutes Disc 2: 16 tracks 61 minutes *
Although Mr. Buechner's Dream is a title that might suggest that Daniel Amos' return to the studio after a seven-year absence produced a concept album in the vein of The Alarma Chronicles, the truth, in fact, was both musically broader in scope and thematically smaller in concept. Of course, when talking about Daniel Amos, nothing is as simple as it sounds – although there was no linear or conceptual story driving this two-disc set, the songs cover subject matter as diverse as organized religion, human frailty, relationships, faith and the lack thereof, and, in the title track, various allusions to literature. Is that enough for ya'?
A more reflective Terry Taylor delivers potent, poetic, yet often stinging lyrics while the entire band (Terry Scott Taylor: vocals and guitars, Tim Chandler: bass and guitars, Greg Flesch: guitars, piano, keyboards, harmonica, accordion and mandolin, Ed McTaggart: drums and percussion) is credited with writing the music. Like a retrospective of every musical phase the band had been through up to this point, Mr. Buechner's Dream features Daniel Amos' signature Beatles-influence on several songs ("The Author of the Story," "The Staggering Gods," "Steal Away"), the heavy riff-based pop-rock of classics like "I Love You #19" ("Who's Who Here?" and in particular, the bonus track, "Nowhere is Someplace," ), beautiful, melodic ballads ("This is the One," "Joel," "And so it Goes"), and, of course, the occasional dissonant weirdness of songs like "Small Great Things."
The boys seem to have even reconciled and re-integrated occasional country sounds into their bag of tricks, having effectively cast off the stigma of 'country-pop band' with everything that came after Shotgun Angel. Mr. Buechner's Dream shows a more mature band, not afraid to break character – a band whose members have experienced the ups and downs of life, even to the extent of losing close friends, as the touching tribute to Gene Eugene, "Flash in Your Eyes," where Taylor sings, "That you'd be the first to leave was never in our plans."
Of course this wouldn't be classic Daniel Amos without some accurately-aimed barbs at the church, TV preachers, and the shallowness of society. Thankfully, Taylor understands the old adage about pointing fingers, and always is aware that three more are pointing right back at us: like Augustine, the attitude seems to say, 'the church might be a whore, but she's my mother.' In "Pretty Little Lies," Taylor talks about how easily we're seduced by beauty and sentimentality: "I'm only here to make you wealthy and wise / Remove the scales from your sweet innocent eyes / and then you'll be in for my big surprise..." The one-two punch of "Faithful Street," a song about the 'everything's wonderful' facade of the 'prosperity' crowd, and "The Lucky Ones," which details the pitfalls of the super personality-driven 'ministers' ("His deep pontification's the source of my frustrations – I'm smiling and just acting dumb...") are every bit as on-target as "Little Crosses," and still relevant today.
Mr. Buechner's Dream is pretty much a primer on Daniel Amos, showing the uninitiated listener everything the band has been best known for through the years. Intelligent, humorous, satyric, and, yes, deeply spiritual songs by a band that's lasted through the years because their path was never guided by trends and commercial concerns – that's what we get with Mr. Buechner's Dream.
* Oh, and there is a sixteenth track on the second disc ....if you're patient.