Dunkie is a diverse and creative force that is thoroughly enjoyable to listen to and becomes more enticing with each listen.
Welsh singer-songwriter Anthony Price is the mastermind behind the alternative-indie, music project Dunkie. Whilst Anthony himself is Dunkie during live performances, the project becomes much more vast and expansive in the studio. Making use of collaborations from many local singers and musicians, the project becomes something quite unique and infinite in possibilities. The forthcoming debut album from Dunkie titled “Working to Design” is currently in the works, with four singles currently released (although I was lucky enough to listen to a fifth exclusive track). The tracks are all supported by gorgeous and dramatic paintings by Welsh artist Michael Gustavius Payne, which elegantly encapsulate the raw emotional power of the tracks. From the beautifully poetic lyrics and vocals of Price, to the top-notch production and mixing of Wayne Bassett, Dunkie is a diverse and creative force that is thoroughly enjoyable to listen to and becomes more enticing with each listen.
Can A Song Save Your Life?
The first single released, titled “Can a Song Save Your Life?” is great example of how Dunkie can manage to seamlessly blend a variety of sounds and styles with great effect. The track begins with a distorted guitar lead intro, which transitions into the verse that’s driven by an acoustic guitar and Price’s distinctive voice. However as the track continues many more elements are added, ranging from the trumpet and violin played by Charlotte Jayne, to the synthesizers that chime in periodically to brighten up the song. I’m not sure if it’s in my head, but I swear I even heard the famous “chug” from Radiohead’s “Creep” somewhere, which served as a sweet surprise and really added a little something to the track (if it was actually even there). I feel like that’s what’s special about Dunkie, it’s all the subtle, small things that add up to create a unique sound and a memorable experience. The lyrical content of the song is something that stood out to me instantly. Price himself noted “The concept behind this song is trying to find a little hope; when all really seems a little lost”. The whole thing carries a heavy, melancholic theme to it, yet it always remains truly optimistic in it’s nature.
“Sugar” is a much more upbeat and positive piece of music than “CASSYL” due to it’s theme of unconditional love. The track begins with a hit of electronic percussion, not that different to Queen’s “Radio Ga Ga,” and some sweet synths to create a light and ethereal sound. Backing vocals from Lucy Athey provide an other worldly sensation that perfectly compliments the voice of Price and certainly elevates the experience of the song to unexpected heights, especially during the bridge towards the end of the track. The lyric “I’m thankful that you stayed, I’m thankful sugar melts away” really struck a chord with me and is one of the most memorable and thought provoking lines I’ve heard in a while. The song feels like a mish-mash of Queen, Owl City and Alt-J, which certainly shoudn’t work, but somehow does. Oh, and that synth line has been in my head for two days now.
I Don’t Wanna Die In Minnesota (Part II)
This song is yet to be released, however Anthony was generous enough to let me have an early listen to the track, so I have no artwork or Spotify link to share (sorry). As obvious as it sounds, since the track is titled “I Don’t Wanna Die In Minnesota (Part II),” one can assume that “Working to Design” will include an “I Don’t Wanna Die In Minnesota (Part I).” As for the song itself, “IDWDIM (P2)” is a more mellow and mid-tempo number, that I feel is much more simplistic than the previous singles. However this doesn’t take anything away from the song, as it provides a nice transition from the busy production of the previous two tracks. By taking a more simplistic approach, the track comes across as a much more genuine piece, and lures the listener to focus more on the lyrical content. It’s a fantastic song that seems to bring something new to the table with each consecutive listen, and I’m really curious as to how it will fit in, in context with the rest of the album.
The third single released titled “Rabbit Hole” begins with Price’s voice performing the intro a capella. Once the palm-muted guitars come in (sounding like something from The 1975’s debut album), the track progresses into something poignant, featuring a bittersweet melody and arguably some of Dunkie’s best lyrics to date. Like the previous song, “Rabbit Hole” is rather simplistic in it’s production which highlights some fantastic lyrics like “Tumble and fall, this rabbit-hole is funnel-webbed and soaring,” and “I’m falling faster but the ground never seems to appear”. With Rob Lear on electric guitar, Dorian Richard Holmes providing a groovy bass line and Jennifer Drew on drums, the instrumentation all comes together to create something quite remarkable. Whilst the track is owning it’s subtlety, the great mixing and mastering from Bassett transform it into something rather poppy and catchy, while leaving the intended vibe of the song to blossom by itself.
(W.A.L.L.S.) Within A Little Love Song
“(W.A.L.L.S.)” is the 4th released single from “Working to Design” and is arguably the best of the lot. The song kicks off with a much more “rocky” feel in comparison to the other tracks, thanks to the heavier distorted guitars. While the song is another love song, it does the best job it possibly could to stand out from the crowd. The track features a beautiful melody with lush harmonies and phenomenal instrumentation. The raw power of the lyrics “So I’ve found these words to sing, and they’re all for you,” fill the track with immense and visceral emotion that truly drive the chorus home. The way the track perfectly encapsulates what this kind of song should do, by using a “dirtier” guitar sound, yet still keeping it simple and sweet really gave me Radiohead vibes, and that is certainly always welcome. As the track list of “Working to Design” is yet to be revealed, I may be wrong on this, but “(W.A.L.L.S.)” is definitely an album closer. The song just sums up everything preceding it so elegantly and that ending sent chills up my spine on my first listen.
All five of these tracks were an absolute joy to experience and it can be very difficult sometimes to put into words how certain pieces of music make you feel. All I can suggest is to go and listen to Dunkie yourself, and have your own experience. If you’re lucky enough to get your hands on a physical CD for “Sugar,” you’ll also find a cover of R.E.M.’s “The One I Love” as the final track. The way Price, Bassett and everybody else involved in the project, so flawlessly blended different styles and genres without it ever feeling disorienting is an amazing accomplishment. The tracks all come together in a cohesive fashion, and I certainly can’t wait until the release of “Working to Design.”