Mike Dillon Tightens & Restrains Musical Focus on Rewarding ‘Rosewood (ALBUM REVIEW)

There have been many changes in Mike Dillon’s personal life recently and that has led to a self-described transitional album titled Rosewood via Royal Potato Family. Dillon moved from his longtime hometown of New Orleans to Kansas City and got married while recording. While those personal changes obviously had an influence on his style, it is his evolved sound, moving from free form punk-inspired jazz to more melodic and focused pieces that make Rosewood a clear success and a step forward in his career. 

While Dillon has played on stage with the varied likes of Primus, Clutch and Ani Difranco, the collection of tunes here should find him headlining refined jazz clubs as the music is relaxed, nuanced and engaging. All of the instrumentation is recorded solely with vibraphone and percussion instruments, the title even comes from the type of lumber used to make marimba bars, as Dillon hones in on his sound like never before.     

The songwriting and tone of “Tiki Bird Whistle” winningly opens the record in cool fashion recalling exotic jazz while staying melodic as the twinkling “Earl’s Bolero” and “Rhumba for Peregrine” continues this light tropicalia groove in exciting fashion. “Mulatu Goes To India” hints at freak out vibes of his rollicking past before mellowing into a light nightclub groove.  

The three covers on the album, two Elliott Smith songs (“Talking To Mary” and “Can’t Make A Sound”) and a take on the Johnny Cash version of Nine Inch Nails “Hurt” keep Dillon orbiting the rock world as does the strutting synth-infused “Bonobo” and perhaps the most interesting effort “St. Claude’s Drone”. 

The song uses upbeat drumming from lone guest Earl Harvin and an art-rock hum from his vibes as a foundation, working in unique fashion with timpani and tabla pulses throughout; a fantastic combo of melodic groove jazz and light noise rock in the vein of restrained Sonic Youth or Yo La Tengo

The light-hearted “Sober Mardi Gras” proves how much his ex-hometown means to him as the expert percussionist adapts to new surroundings. Dillon is shifting gears on every front in these uncertain times and by tightening/restraining his musical focus he has crafted one of the strongest releases of his career with Rosewood.

Related Content

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Posts

New to Glide

Keep up-to-date with Glide