"Everything Behind Us is a Dream" is the most recent album from Chicago-based artist We/Or/Me, the musical alias of singer-songwriter Bahhaj Taherzadeh, joined by several fellow musicians, including Adam Selzer, Luke Ydstie, Amanda Lawrence, Cory Gray and Alia Farah.
The 11 beautifully composed songs on this impressive release are soft, thoughtful and sentimental - in both sound and lyrics. The predominant instruments across all songs include Bahhaj's simple, yet sophisticated acoustic guitar playing and his relaxed, smooth, melodic voice, which is reminiscent of a mix of Neil Halstead (Mojave 3, Slowdive) and James Taylor. Light layers of bass, string arrangements, piano, hammond organ and harmonica are added to some of these tracks to produce an evenly balanced, warm and subtle soundscape. The overall sound is a solid, stripped down, sometimes ethereal, acoustic folk. The songwriting and production on this album are proof that "less is more" is effective and working well here - you can hear all the musical components harmoniously co-existing and coming across as polished and well-produced to the listener. It's one of those long plays that's best listened to in its entirety.
My favorites include "Dreaming Heart" with Fall-appropriate lyrics set in a Chicago north side neighborhood: "Summer evenings fade, and Autumn skies turn grey. And the leaves begin to fall on Rogers Park" and its simple chorus "I get lost and I miss your dreaming heart" with extra harmony provided by Alia Farah (who sings on several other songs). "Orla Brown" and "Sea Wall" incorporate a slightly watery background piano that adds a bit of playfulness to these otherwise sentimental songs. "Currents of Time" and album closer "Slow Dance Dream" contain beautiful, simple string arrangements from Amanda Lawrence. The latter ("Slow Dance Dream")evokes a peaceful, yet longing feeling similar to the way "A Single Wish" ends This Mortal Coil's "It'll End In Tears" (1984).
DREAMING HEART (Official Video):
I first heard We/Or/Me at a recent Sofar Sounds Chicago event and was blown away by their impressive performance. Bahhaj chatted with the small audience of about 100 people tucked away in an art studio loft on the city's North Side. He told us about his Persian-Irish roots and growing up in Dublin, Ireland, relayed the stories behind each song performed, and successfully encouraged the audience to sing along with the one of the band's more upbeat songs "Old Joy" (from their prior album "The Walking Hour").