Reviews

You May Already Be Dreaming

Author: Cara Sarelli
04/28/2008 | Daily Cougar | www.thedailycougar.com | Live Show Preview
Drawing on old-world inspiration, Neva Dinova's latest flawlessly blends warm vocals with soothing sounds

No matter how awake you may be, Neva Dinova's sure to make you feel You May Already Be Dreaming, or so says the sleepy rock act's aptly titled and full-length debut on Saddle Creek records.

The Omaha, Neb. natives are no strangers to the label. Home and a long-shared history unite the pair. Roger Lewis may be recognized for his drumming in both Neva and The Good Life, which follows logically because the acts have toured together.

Houston hipsters may remember Neva for flawless live performances with the '89 Cubs, or as opener for Rilo Kiley's More Adventurous tour at Numbers, both a few years ago.

If that weren't enough, 2004's collaborative split EP with Bright Eyes A Jug of Wine, Two Vessels (Crank! Records) helped put the band on the map, matching Saddle Creek forefather Conor Oberst in poignancy and intensity.

Front man Jake Bellows' warmth, sincerity and cathartic vocals surely hit anyone who heard it, especially in the EP's final track, "Spring Cleaning."

Oberst himself testifies to its compelling nature on Crank's Web site.

"There's a feeling I get when I hear Jake sing that is rather addictive," he says. "It runs the length of my spine and makes me feel as if I were living some wonderful life long ago."

Indeed, Neva Dinova, named after Bellows' grandmother, can't help to conjure images of old, dusty furniture with a worn wooden finish. One may picture a room-temperature glass of whiskey on an end table next to a yellowed book and a porch swing with chipped white paint swaying in the evening wind.

The personal, confessional craftsmanship lays evidence to the long-standing friendship and musical relationship between Bellows and bassist Heath Koontz. They have been composing together since the early '90s, which brings a certain holistic integrity to the record that newer acts could only hope to emulate. Talent could sometimes fall short without the presence of past times and learned patience.

And while on the subject, this record is not for the impatient; it's for the slow listener. It's for Sunday afternoons and cold winter nights. It's for falling asleep or relaxing after a long day. It's for solving a problem without having to think, allowing it to untangle with time. This album's for dreamers, asleep or awake, uninterrupted thoughts streaming like the unwinding unconscious at its most lucid.

"Will the ladies send you flowers when you die?" Bellows sings wistfully on the track owning the same title. "I've been dying for a year and 10 days / I've been dying for years / trying to drown myself in tears / I've been dying for a year and 10 days."

Although high on depressive lyrical content, the album moves more toward comfort than melodrama. Similar to the signature sounds of countless blues, old country, classic rock, as well as their modern incarnations, these songs can't help resemble written reconnaissance of Johnny Cash, the Rolling Stones and even Cake (think "Where Would I Be" meets "Wild Horses" or "Dead Flowers.")

There is more to come from Neva Dinova as the band is set to visit Austin and Denton in late May, which is a great excuse for a post-finals road trip. Bring the album along for an amazing summer highway drive.