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Andrew is a staff writer at the “The Hudsucker”. He is a 28 year old lawyer living in Ottawa. Besides legal jargon, his brain capacity is taken up by reality show trivia, video game walk-throughs and room escape strategies. Andrew is also happily in a long-term, long-distance relationship. Follow him on Twitter as @sublymonal.

Idol Winner, DeWyze, Re- “Frames” Himself.

Credit: Idol Chatter

I talked a lot about the “white guy with guitar” streak during my Idol series this past season and how the producers were determined to break it – an effort I can understand after five male winners in a row, but with the success of Phillip Phillips and David Cook, there’s an obvious underlining message there that the people know what they want.

Sandwiched in the middle of that streak was this guy… the unassuming paintshop worker from Mount Prospect, Illinois: Lee DeWyze. He didn’t have the bombastic vocals of David Cook or the showy charisma of Scotty McCreery, but what he did have was a certain charm when left to his own devices and his trusty guitar. He had the kind charm you could tell was meant for a more intimate setting and I can say with certainty, after seeing a couple of his smaller shows since his victory, that up close and personal is the way to go with this guy. Following his win on Idol, he released an album called Live It Up. It was full of some infectious pop tracks mixed with what was, obviously, more of Lee’s style as evidenced on his pre-Idol albums with Wuli Records: Slumberland and So I’m Told – and that style comes out full force in his new album, Frames. If there was any worry, after his performance on Idol’s twelfth season results show, that he might just become another by-product of the “Mumford” fad that seems to have taken over the music scene today, DeWyze dispels it quickly with tracks that test the very limits of the freedom his new recording label, Vanguard Records, has given him.

Credit: People Magazine, Time Inc.

Every lyric on his album seems to be carefully chosen, a trait often lacking from Idol’s post-show efforts. DeWyze seems determined to tell a story with every song and, I can say with experience from seeing him, that he always has a story to go along with them. DeWyze even said, in the last show that I saw him, that the title “Frames” comes from the idea that memories are like pictures that tell stories and each song seems to borrow from that idea to create a really great conceptual whole. For example: the penultimate track on the album: Who Would’ve Known was written by DeWyze this past year as a backdrop to his wedding with his beautiful wife, actress Jonna Walsh. Putting the track on the album was one of those obviously personal decisions that only come from an artist who is comfortable in their own skin and with their record label.

To take it a step further, DeWyze has been releasing tracks from his album in the weeks preceding it’s August 20th release, which included a deluxe option with dramatically different acoustic versions of all the songs that seem to speak to the fact that DeWyze knows how different he sounds live. My intention is to review the standard version of the album, but I feel like I would be doing you a disservice not to tell you that the album in it’s acoustic entirety adds another layer of explanation to why DeWyze won the viewers over and triumphed in his season so handedly.

As for the standard side of the album, it’s clear that DeWyze was going for an authentic vibe. He’s cited Cat Stevens, Eric Clapton, Ben Harper and Simon & Garfunkel as his influences in the past and, as if those weren’t evidence enough of his love for authenticity and stripped down music, DeWyze brings in the brass, strings, banjo and piano on various tracks to add to his acoustic guitar stylings. As I’ve said, before the release of the album, there were mumblings of a forthcoming “Mumford” sound from DeWyze, with worry that many of the tracks would blend together on the album. DeWyze smartly changes tempo and instruments so many times on this album that he leaves no doubt in your mind, after a few listens, where you are on the tracklisting. When I saw DeWyze, it was just him, his guitar and a pedal where the singer could tap his foot in time to the beat, creating the rhythm he needs to deliver his songs with just him and his guitar. The effect was almost ethereal late at night at a bar surrounded by people as mesmorized by his music as I was, and I was worried the album would lose that quality but I don’t feel like it has, by any means. If anything, the addition of the new instruments compliments DeWyze perfectly. For example, Breathing In, the final track on the standard side of the album, is so quiet that you can almost hear DeWyze breathing and moving his fingers along the frets of his guitar as he delivers the lyrics.

Credit: leedewyzenet, leedewyzeofficial @instagram

The album also starts strong and hooks you right away with tracks that DeWyze let slip before the release: Fight, Like I Do and Silver Lining – each one catchier than the last without sacrificing the authenticity of DeWyze’s guitar and heartfelt lyrics. Midway through, the singer-songwriter seems to switch gears with some unique and unexpected rhythms in Fire AwayThe Ride, Open Your Eyes and You Don’t Know Me. The tracks are so unlike anything on DeWyze’s previous release that they caught my attention and had me replaying them a few times just to make sure I took in every bit of them. Like any well produced album, DeWyze’s album benefits from a listen through headphones which let me pick up instruments and backup vocals that sometimes computer speakers fail to show off to the fullest extent. Lee closes the album, with Little Did I Know and the aforementioned Breathing In and Who Would’ve Known on a more intimate level, the kind that makes me sure the album won’t be out of place over dinner and jamming out on my iPod simultaneously. My favourite track on the album though, and one that seems to defy being grouped with any of the others on the album, is the title track Frames, which is the only time DeWyze drops explicit language onto the album, but it seems to be an overwhelmingly artistic choice that speaks to the desperation he’s trying to convey in the song. It truly is a standout on an album full of solid material and when DeWyze first performed it live at the show I was at, I felt just as amazed with it as I do now with the studio and acoustic versions.

Before I leave you to take a listen yourself, and discover DeWyze’s newfound sound, but definitely one that is more true to himself than his previous album, I’ll just stress again the dramatic difference between the acoustic and studio versions of the album. I’d urge you to listen to both because the transformation the tracks went from acoustic to final recorded version is so interesting that, for me, it leaves me no doubts about DeWyze’s future career: With Vanguard by his side, we’re going to be getting some great music from him for years to come.

Frames is currently on iTunes in Standard ($9.99) and Deluxe ($12.99) form. It is also on Amazon ($6.99) and at Best Buy.

Follow Lee DeWyze on twitter at @LeeDeWyze and check out his website at www.leedewyzeofficial.com.

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11 Comments on “Idol Winner, DeWyze, Re- “Frames” Himself.”

  1. Donna B August 21, 2013 at 11:25 am #

    This is a great review! You said what I feel (only better) and I love your more technical reasons for why Lee is great! I only know what I like, not why! I’ve noticed that other musicians that have worked with Lee acknowledge his talent too.

    • Andrew Rogers August 21, 2013 at 12:12 pm #

      Thank you so much Donna! I’m glad you loved the review, and the album as much as I did. I never thought of myself as a technical music person, but I guess being in a band and choir gives me some musical knowledge, but really I just spoke from the heart about what I heard and felt. Lee really put his heart into the album and I wanted to put my heart in this review. Thanks for reading!

  2. JoAnne August 21, 2013 at 4:11 pm #

    Great write up on the review on LEE DEWYZE!!!!
    I am sure everyone of Lee’s fan would agree with you.

  3. Heather August 21, 2013 at 6:08 pm #

    Great review Andrew! I rushed out of work today so excited to listen to FRAMES on my way home. It really is an amazing album and you described it perfectly :)

    • Andrew Rogers August 21, 2013 at 6:21 pm #

      Thanks Heather! I’m glad you liked the review! It’s a great listen, for sure!

  4. Cindy5028 August 21, 2013 at 11:09 pm #

    I had to re-read the review just as I’ve been replaying the album. I picked something new up in both by doing that. Great review of a great album! As someone who has been fortunate enough to see Lee live; I totally agree with what you said about intimate settings with this singer. On the other hand, I hope the world catches up with this artist; he deserves to be heard. Thanks again!

    • Andrew Rogers August 22, 2013 at 1:09 pm #

      Thanks for reading! I’m glad you liked it and can vouch for the fact that Lee creates a great atmosphere at his shows, and I totally agree. I hope this album gets heard because it, and Lee, deserve it!

  5. Gerri August 22, 2013 at 1:58 pm #

    Your review of Lee is a favorite of mine. You really seem to GET our home town Guy. He is Truly a Fabulous Artist and the Sweetest Guy ever! I’ve been to at least six of his live shows. He has talent Galore and a personality to match. He draws fans from all over the States and abroad. I’m his #1 senior fan (which is has many) and we’re happy to join all of the young gals and guys who also are great fans of his. With Lee you get the whole ball of wax. We continue to be proud of him and we KNOW he’ll continue speaking to all of us through his albums (there will be more to come) and we will absolutely be “listening”.
    Will look for more review from you on OUR GUY! Thanks for your honesty! Gerri fr

    • Andrew Rogers August 22, 2013 at 10:51 pm #

      Thank you Gerri! It means a lot that you like this review, given that you’re such a diehard Lee fan! I totally agree with you that Lee has a ton of talent and potential and Frames is just the tip of the iceberg, but what a great tip it is! Thanks for reading and commenting!

  6. Lisa OBrien August 22, 2013 at 10:56 pm #

    I’ve always said to anyone who would listen is all Lee needs is his voice and his guitar…this album just proves that.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. End of an Era: Bidding Farewell to American Idol | The Hudsucker - April 7, 2016

    […] Album Review: Frames […]

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