A new hope for everyone
Freedom is exactly what this album feels and sounds like. Damon McMahon, aka Amen Dunes, is no stranger to emotions, which he evokes rather innocently in his earlier albums. But, unlike his previous collection of songs which blur together in a cohort of folk-inspired ballads, Freedom stands alone as a brief masterpiece, one which spans and even exceeds the traditional emotional boundaries for men.
Shocked by his mother’s diagnosis of terminal cancer at the start of this record, it is no surprise that this album carries with it themes of loneliness, growing up and moving on, as McMahon toiled with its creation for three years.
Throughout the album, Amen Dunes takes listeners on a journey of self-discovery and freedom. The journey begins with “Intro” in which a young child states, “This is your time / Their time is done,” implying that the forthcoming songs are going to be about establishing yourself and finding your place in the world, which transitions nicely into “Blue Rose,” where these themes are touched upon immediately. After this upbeat tune comes a softer ballad, “She,” which speaks of “suffering, suffering,” and “so much pain, so much pain.” Thus, begins the protagonist’s journey into the world.
The protagonist in the album seems to be an amalgamation of McMahon, historical heroic figures and the local kid who is just trying to figure out life, all rolled into one. “Skipping School” and “Miki Dora” both contemplate this idea of the anti-hero, the local outcast who sniffs glue and commits crimes but seems to be having fun doing it. At many times throughout Freedom, summer is referenced, giving listeners the feeling of late summertime sadness, one of longing and desperation. While dabbling in this feeling, “Believe” talks about finally growing up and moving on, which is definitely felt in the upbeat dance tune “Dracula.” This song brings the feeling of Autumn, harvest and the entering of a new season in life, which is followed nicely with “Freedom” and “L.A.” Both songs conclude the album and evoke a sense of relief, rejuvenation and finally learning what it means to be a “man.”
So, yes, the world can be harsh, lonely and difficult to maneuver at times, but Amen Dunes uses his music to communicate that there are seasons for all of these feelings. There is indeed a place for everyone, and we will all find it one day.