|We/or/Me — Everything Behind Us Is a Dream (January 29, 2016)|
We/or/Me — Everything Behind Us Is a Dream (January 29, 2016)
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Album release: January 29, 2016
Record Label: We/or/Me
Genre: Folk, Modern Folk, Singer–Songwriter
01. The Dusty Roads
02. The Long Good–Bye
03. Dreaming Heart
04. Currents of Time
05. Always / Sometimes
06. Orla Brown
07. Sea Wall
08. Haifa Bay
10. Gather Up My Bones
11. Slow Dance Dream
★ Bahhaj TaherzadehDescription:
★ We/Or/Me is the musical alias of Bahhaj Taherzadeh, quite possibly the world’s only Persian–Irish singer/songwriter. Born and raised in Dublin to an Iranian father and an Irish mother, Taherzadeh now lives in Chicago where he has plied his trade as a manuscript editor and writer over the years. Steeped in storytelling traditions on both sides of his lineage, Taherzadeh, a self–taught musician from a decidedly non–musical family, started to write songs in the mid–2000s, rarely sharing them with anyone apart from a few close friends. This all changed suddenly with the encouragement of Glen Hansard, who literally called Taherzadeh to the stage one night during a set of his own, and told him it was time to sing a song. That moment, coming after the two had shared an inspiring conversation on a rainy Dublin street a week prior, set Taherzadeh on a path he has been walking ever since. It has been a long and winding one that has seen him share the stage with the likes of Mumford and Sons, Laura Marling, the Swell Season, and Mt. Eerie to name just a few.
★ In 2009, after becoming the father of twins, Taherzadeh became obsessed with using what little free time he had creatively. He started to write songs in his car on his lunch breaks at work, recording them at night while his daughters slept. The daily/nightly routine yielded a string of self–produced releases that drew admiration from the likes of NPR Music, Glen Hansard, Vashti Bunyan, and producer Brian Deck. (Bunyan became a collaborator, singing on 2013’s The Walking Hour, which Deck mixed).
★ Everything Behind Us is a Dream is his first studio record and the first wide–scale We/Or/Me release. Produced by Adam Selzer (M. Ward, Decemberists), it was recorded in the space of four days at Portland's Type Foundry Studio with several of the city’s finest session musicians dropping in to fill out the sound. The result is a warm, often haunting meditation on memory, identity, and mortality that harkens back to the tone of some of the great singer/songwriter records of the 60s and 70s.Review
By THOMAS BLAKE on 3 FEBRUARY, 2016
★ On Everything Behind Us Is A Dream, We/Or/Me, the musical alias of Bahhaj Taherzadeh, demonstrates how clarity and simplicity can create a beautiful album. Don’t miss his London gig this…
★ When it comes to the notion of identity, the choice of a solo artist to call himself We/Or/Me would seem to imply or invent some level of confusion, or at least ambiguity. This is understandable in the case of Bahhaj Taherzadeh, a performer of mixed Irish and Iranian descent who lives in Chicago.
★ So it is something of a surprise to find a collection of songs that feature almost exclusively acoustic instruments from the western popular music tradition. When he does make use of his heritage it is subtle. For the most part these songs are rooted in the Anglo–American singer–songwriter tradition — think Paul Simon, Nick Drake, early Van Morrison and the Greenwich Village scene.
★ Taherzadeh was discovered — and talked into recording — by Swell Season/Frames frontman Glen Hansard. Before that he had only performed for himself and his close friends, and accordingly his songs have something almost private about them, like secrets being shared for the first time. In fact, if it wasn’t for the excellent and accommodating production — courtesy of Adam Selzer, whose CV includes work with M.Ward — some of these songs would barely be there at all.
★ Dusty Roads has a typically American feel to it, concerned as it is with themes of travel and parting. The careworn delivery and ample use of the harmonica make early Dylan an obvious reference point, but the soft, sympathetic backing vocals on the simple refrain hint that Taherzadeh’s influences also encompass more contemporary Americana. The Dylan influence is made flesh in The Long Goodbye, where the man himself gets a mention. Here a slow, melancholy set of piano chords are joined by mournful strings and guitar to deliver a bittersweet meditation on loss.
★ Dreaming Heart is like a slower, sadder (but somehow more hopeful) version of Donovan’s Catch The Wind, a shimmer of fingerpicked acoustic guitar underpinning a graceful vocal arrangement, while the strings that swoon in and out of Currents of Time give the piece a distinct chamber–folk feel.
★ The passage of time is one of a number of recurring themes on this record. Always/Sometimes — a deceptively slight performance with shuffling percussion — neatly ties the time motif into a reflection on creativity and imagination. Orla Brown — cut into verses by short, pretty, wonky piano snippets — does away with generality and abstraction in favour of the concrete and the personal. This song, perhaps more than any other on the album, seems to have its roots in the Ireland of Taherzadeh’s past rather than the America of his present. As such presents a different view of his lyrical preoccupation with time. Sea Wall successfully marries the abstract (in this case the struggle to come to terms with, amongst other things, divinity) to the (literally) concrete.
★ The first clear nod to Taherzadeh’s Middle Eastern heritage is Haifa Bay, but even here the musical language remains resolutely neutral. That is not to say that it is in any way dull. Rather, the minimal clarity of the arrangements throughout helps maintain a refreshing honesty. If the musical backdrops are straightforward, the lyrical concerns are more ambivalent. ‘I’m a child of the half–light,’ he sings in Half–Light, and it seems like a discrete confession about the difficulty of knowing exactly where to fit in, or perhaps an admittance that it is better off not to fit in.
★ There seems to be a kind of ‘why whisper when you can shout?’ attitude in music at the moment, a need to show off as many influences as possible in three minutes. This is fine: contemporary life is busy and contemporary music sometimes needs to reflect this. But the opposite is also true. Periods of reflection are gratifying but also necessary. The last song on Everything Behind Us Is A Dream is called Slow Dance Dream, and it touches upon one of the reasons that this album is so good: in dreams time can be stretched, and that stretching creates its own oneiric logic. In good dreams this logic is one of clarity and simplicity. The same could be said for good music.
|We/or/Me — Everything Behind Us Is a Dream (January 29, 2016)|