Dustin Kensrue - Desert Dreaming

Regular price $ 28.99

Dustin Kensrue has been releasing solo records for almost two decades now, leaning into a relaxed mix of folk and Americana, but he is still largely known by many as the frontman of post-hardcore/punk band Thrice. And while there would seem to be little overlap in the Venn diagram of those two bands, one needs to just look at the careers of Hot Water Music’s Chuck Ragan or Avail’s Tim Barry to realize that you actually can have it both ways.

Kensrue’s latest, Deseret Dreaming, his third solo effort, manages to bring in additional influence beyond his normal favorites including an impressive twangy Bakersfield sound on songs like “Leaving Tonight For Santa Fe.” Desert Dreaming is a musical travelogue of sorts, with the scenery of the Southwest serving as the main character throughout all 10 tracks (the song titles – like “Death Valley Honeymoon,” Western Skies,” “The Heart of Sedona” and “Treasures In the West” – are a big giveaway). The lyrics also add a bit of biography as well, with Kensrue drawing on his own experiences visiting his grandparents in the Sonoran Desert as a kid.

Musically, it’s one of his strongest albums yet; he plays and sings with a confidence that he has been building up since starting Thrice as a teenager. Lyrically though, the constant nods to geography – while an interesting concept – starts to wear thin after a while. Sometimes it works well, like on the title track that closes the album complete with a beautiful cameo by Cat Clyde, and “The Heart Of Sedona,” another standout moment on the album. But other times, (like on “Treasures In The West”) it feels like he’s thumbing through old Larry McMurtry or Cormac McCarthy paperbacks trying to come up with inspiration.

Kensrue’s vocals manage to level over most of the weaker moments on the record. Surprisingly for a musician who made his career competing to be heard over distorted guitars, his deep, soothing vocals are tailor-made for this genre. The desert theme, while an interesting concept, is just not strong enough to carry over 10 songs. That being said, between the extra songs, there is certainly an impressive EP to be found on this record.

Death Valley Honeymoon
High Scalers
Treasure In The West
Lift Your Eyes
Western Skies
The Heart Of Sedona
Sage & Lilac
The Light Of The Moon
Leaving Tonight For Santa Fe
Desert Dreaming