The cover art for Montreal native Patrick Dunphy’s latest release Seasons Changing is indicative of the kind of music that awaits the listener. It’s a picture of the sky through autumn foliage, with a single golden branch permeating the middle of the scene. It’s very pretty, but there’s not much going on beneath the surface. It’s surface level cute.
Dunphy’s voice is great. It’s soft and soothing in all the right ways, and it must be enough to keep any small pub crowd’s undivided attention. Similarly, his approach to guitar accompaniment brings to the fore all of the right arpeggiated chord progressions to make the young ladies swoon (or guys; it’s 2018 after all).
A simple drumline somehow managed to sneak its way onto “Strange Ways,” whereas it is otherwise absent on the EP, and it only serves to highlight how naked the songs are. On its own, a lack of instrumentation doesn’t kill a record; just look at Bon Iver. On the other hand, the lack of any sort of backbone or additional melody on these songs, combined with a distinct lack of hooks, makes for a very droning listening experience.
Dunphy’s poetry is, again, surface level cute. He has a great line about gender norms and being the little spoon in the shower. All of the right romantic checkpoints are there, but it never feels like the lady (or gentleman) he’s singing to is a real person.
Dunphy clearly has a firm grasp on the style of music he wants to make, and his execution is steady. There’s no sense of real personality in these songs, yet they feel like they’re doing what they’re supposed to do. Still, the kid is young, and this is his first release, so this is by no means an artist to be disregarded. Look for Dunphy to mature and make a proper mark on the Montreal indie scene in the future.
Written by Syd Ghan
*edited by Kate Erickson