Dreams and Elma Reukema – “Insomnia” and “You Can’t Save Me”
In some ways, these are like poems set to music. Elma Reukema is one of those rare songwriters possessing the gift to transform the marrow of her life into something resonant and truly giving. Thanks to her vocals and the evocative instrumental performance provided by the band on both songs, an incandescent glow radiates from these songs with the capability of touching even the most cynical listeners. Both tracks have an understated theatrical quality in the sense that they are self-consciously crafted pieces of musical art, but nothing sounds or feels arbitrary. Instead, they sound and feel like full on invocations of Reukema and the musicians’ inner most selves for their target audience. Listeners with a love for delicately crafted artistry and emotional honesty will flock in droves to these tracks and others like them given the proper exposure. Consider this review a salvo in that direction.
“Insomnia” is a true gem. This is a good of an invocation of the price paid by sufferers of insomnia as you’ll ever hear and accomplishes it through a combination of thoughtful and often beautiful music with some strong poetic lyrics. Despite the literary qualities of the lyrics, they paint a vivid picture of the narrator’s suffering without ever belaboring the issues. Elma Reukema’s vocals are particularly effective in getting this across. Her voice entwines with the arrangement in a beautiful way – it never strains for effect, never pushes too hard against the music, and shows a deft touch that makes the most of the lyrical content. The acoustic guitar work and low-key percussion never bites off more than it can chew and takes a number of interesting turns throughout the entirety of the tune. “Insomnia” is a song that isn’t easy to forget and makes its impact through subtlety and understatement rather than revealing itself all at once.
The second song, “You Can’t Save Me”, possesses much of the same artistry while showing ample musical variation from the first song. Electric guitar appears in this song without ever dominating the sonic landscape and the drumming takes more of a lead role in setting a tone than the previous track. Reukema’s vocal is also more forceful than before and she delivers an eminently soulful performance that, nevertheless, works well within the boundaries of tastefulness that are clearly the hallmark of these performers. The lyrical content doesn’t have quite the same amount of lyricism and poetic touches we’ve heard in the first song, but it speaks just as directly to listeners with a conversational excellence that sounds easy to achieve but, in the end, isn’t at all. This creative partnership is full of imagination and deep feeling that’s equally hard to contain in one or two tracks. Elma Reukema and Dreams do an exceptional job, however, and the beautiful organic quality of the songwriting and performances are things to behold with a smile. These are tracks that will find many admirers.