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“Legal Dreamers” by Kēvens  

In his new single “Legal Dreamers,” Kēvens establishes his brand as being both beat-focused and profoundly harmonious when it counts, straddling the delicate line between reggae and dub fusion with a moxie that few other artists in his indie peer group have this year. Right from the start of this track forward, it’s obvious that Kēvens is someone who believes in the power of melodic mood-setting; through both the synthetic components in the instrumentation and his vocal, he creates an atmosphere that both transcends and counters the lyrics he sings with other emotional elements we wouldn’t otherwise notice.

He’s a very meticulous songwriter, and for all of the talk about minimalist trends in the underground right now, this is one play that is far more interested in substance than avoiding the pitfalls that come with standing out.   This rhythm has a great swing, but the tempo here doesn’t define the essence of “Legal Dreamers” at all. There’s as much to say about the tonality of the melodic fabric behind Kēvens as there is his actual vocal and the beat he’s setting the words to, which isn’t something that has been the case with a lot of the other pop music debuting this summer. There are a lot of different elements backing up the hook, starting with the bassline, but in its totality, I would probably call “Legal Dreamers” a lot less industrious and mechanical than some of the biggest club soundtracks making their way onto the charts lately.

I love the tone of the bass element in the chorus, and when it cycles back around near the end of the song, it seems to have a little more beefiness than it did in the first act. Adding depth to the backend rather than emphasizing muscularity isn’t as simple as it often sounds; in the case of “Legal Dreamers,” Kēvens is luckily working with a sophisticated hand at the mixing board that is as interested in experimentation as he is. You’d be hard-pressed to find something out right now that is as efficient and as rhythmically embracive as this single is around every turn, mostly because indie movements to the left and right of Kēvens’ sound have been dictating such contrasting themes; both of which he resoundingly rejects with the release of this song.

If you’re just hearing about Kēvens’ “Legal Dreamers” for the first time today, I’d recommend taking a peek at his style for yourself, mostly to understand when I say that he’s presenting a worthwhile alternative to the mainstream model in his latest release. 2023 is ushering in a lot of interesting new talent, but for those of us who are primarily looking for a smooth beat-maker who has some pipes as well, Kēvens’ new work could provide one of the smarter songs of the season thus far. I’m impressed with what I hear, and I doubt I’ll be the only one saying so by the time this year is over so long as the trend we’re seeing now doesn’t fade away.  

Mindy McCall  



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