Showcasing Her Soft, Maternal Side With Flying Colors
It may not quite be a Shamalayan twist, but Evanescence’s Amy Lee has released an album of lullabies for children, a strangely sweet effort that utilizes her emotional vocals and channels them into a completely different direction. Amy Lee begging you to wake her up inside while she perpetually falls down the side of a sky scraper in a suicidal bid for metaphorical freedom? Not even a hint of that reaches Dream Too Much—you could find a diehard Evanescence fan, put this album on for their little one and they may never know (assuming they can’t access the internet).
The 12-song LP was released as an Amazon Music exclusive on September 30th, inspired by Lee’s two year old son Jackm and intended as a gift for her father, who is a fellow musician and a source of inspiration in the Lee home. Lee tells Rolling Stone “Dad has always been talking about making some kid songs for Jack to have later in life, [and my husband suggested] ‘you guys should just do it, get in the studio together, you’ve never been in the studio together, you’re both musicians.” What began as a two-person effort in Fort Worth quickly developed into a family affair, with Lee’s father playing ukulele, banjo and dobro, her uncle Tom playing guitar, harmonica and bass and sisters Lori and Carrie coming together to create some stunning harmonies; even little Jack makes an appearance.
Dream Too Much begins with “Stand By Me,” a bubblegum-pop infused rendition of the classic Ben E. King standard. It’s a charming, toe-tapping remake that builds with time, with robust and buttery vocals. The harmony buoys up Lee’s delivery but is so muted and sweet that it’s lower than even the drumming and guitar strumming.
“Dream Too Much” comes in second, immediately kicking off with light strumming and Lee’s crystal clear vocals. “Dream Too Much” might have been placed too early on the album—this track is a bit too heavy and full circle to appear so quickly, especially after a cover. It would have a stronger effect as a closer or an aid in rounding out the last leg of the album, which admittedly is an odd sentiment for a children’s album but one that still rings true. “Dream Too Much” is reminiscent of the pop songs that were popular a decade or so ago, when girl groups and boy bands were colossal. With lyrics like ‘In dreams you can do anything you want to / and once in a while you’ll have dreams that come true,’ “Dream Too Much” sounds like a cousin to Mandy Moore’s “Candy” or something S Club 7 might’ve put out.
“Hello Goodbye” is a Beatles homage that rides the same wave as “Stand By Me;” a fulfilling cover that doesn’t sacrifice complexity for children’s ears. This should be the goal more often for child-focused musicians—keeping the layers and moving parts intact instead of streamlining them. With this track Lee doesn’t underestimate a child’s appreciation for music and sound. “The End Of The Book” is a sweet, uplifting ditty inspired by Jack’s near despair at the end of each book he and Lee would read together. In the song, Lee croons “read it again, read it again, read it again,” and assures Jack “the end of the book isn’t the end of the story.” An oddly adult metaphor to instill in children—it’s very darling and reassuring. The track itself utilizes soaring vocals, soft harmonies and a rather robust melody evened out with an emotional and surprisingly staggering bridge near the end.
Dream Too Much is vibrant, jaunty and solid—a great gift to a child that may even challenge and accelerate them while not completely boring or creeping out the adult (though it may just be a personal sentiment that children’s music is inherently creepy). While Amy Lee doesn’t intend to take her career completely in this direction (“Who knows? Maybe I’ll be the next Raffi,” she jokes), but for now Lee has left a sweet legacy for her son while experimenting with the unexpected and she’s all the more endearing for it.