The latest single from Jesse Eplan, “Dreams”, is the current culmination of a path the young artist has pursued since first discovering his talent and passion for music at the age of seven. The New York City native isn’t just a pretty face – he’s a multi-instrumentalist with the rare gift of perfect pitch and has the work ethic and desire to not only perform, but handle all of the writing and production duties as well for his music. He’s amassed considerable experience as a live performer in a short time appearing in various NYC venues and garnering fulsome praise from every quarter. Eplan’s influences are detectable in “Dreams”, but never obviously or garishly presented. Instead, he’s talented enough to pick up on what artists he admires do and transform it in such a way that it reflects his personality and experiences.
Bass, synthesizer, and a scat vocal line swirl around each other in the opening second of “Dreams” before Eplan’s voice enters for the first time. He has a cool, soothing tone exuding confidence, but perfectly modulating its assertiveness. The arrangement’s silky texture and tempo has immaculate style, but likewise clearly invokes classic R&B influences without ever coming off in a heavy handed way. Eplan plots out the song’s evolution in such a way that there’s a lot of subtle nuance – a close listen will reveal a number of nearly imperceptible lulls when the bulk of the production focus falls on his voice. It adds to the song’s dramatic potential without ever announcing itself.
As confident as he clearly is as a performer and writer, Eplan’s work producing this song reveals him to be a rare talent in that area as well. He unabashedly makes use of the studio in the way he sets up the singing, particularly the backing vocals. His songwriting instincts keep things relatively brief and never risk self-indulgence with extraneous musical elements or excessive verbiage. Everything here is shaped and cut to fill the song’s demands or, to put it more poetically, approximate the sound Eplan hears in his head.
The lyrical content is unusually astute for the form. It probably shouldn’t come as any sort of surprise someone so obviously gifted as a musician and songwriter expresses himself with more the serviceable facility as a lyricist. There’s a surprising amount of self-awareness here and his phrasing vividly conveys his message. It’s very impressive how he carefully adjusts the emphasis and phrasing of his vocal approach in seamless accord with the music’s movement and the meaning of each line.
Eplan has garnered considerable attention from casual and longtime fans alike in an astonishingly brief amount of time. Commanding this sort of notice is the providence of prodigies and there’s nothing about this song or his earlier recordings that would dissuade many from holding that view. The level of technique at work here is quite high, but it isn’t empty expertise. “Dreams”, likewise, reveals a recording artist who creates works capable of entertaining many people, but also moving their spirits.