Dw Dunphy, The Radial Night as reviewed in The Phantom Tollbooth

Dw. Dunphy’s The Radial Night release is a musical adventure.

The Radial Night
Artist:            Dw. Dunphy
Label:            Secret Decoder Records
Release Date: June 3, 2013
Duration:        12 tracks, 50:48

Active as a musician from the late ‘90s to date, Dunphy is also an author, has a weekly column on the website Popdose, and hosts a web-radio show. Following a good number of releases both as a band member and solo, The Radial Night is Dunphy’s latest release.

At time sounding like Fistful of Mercy at others like a long lost recording of Graham Parker's, Dw. Dunphy’s music is prog / pop whose story is difficult to decipher, mainly due to lack song continuity and indistinct vocals. With gems to be found, a great deal of the album sounds like something from the early ‘80s. The Radial Night, as a whole has a disconnected story. However, there are songs, which stand on their own.

Great harmony and melody, but small emphasis on vocals (other than the lyric ‘nothing harder than song’ repeated at the end of the album), “Untitled” leaves the listener wondering what next? The first of the ‘Radial Night’ triad is offered with early ‘80s guitar and electronica. Again, the vocals do not stand on their own.

A number of meandering rockers flank the album's gems beginning with the acoustic instrumental “Built On Bones” and the song “Another Distant Island” reminiscent of David Gilmour’s On An Island release. “Sink Into The Sea” begins with as a rocker bridging excellently to a mellower chorus with the fine lyric, ‘Please don’t give me an SOS, I need a life line’, and smoothly changes back to the rocker it was. “Head Without A Heart” emphasizes key words in spoken format for its chorus. Here, Dunphy sounds so much like Roger McGuinn of post-Crosby ‘70s Byrds you’d swear he’s making another comeback! With this said, it is one of the best vocal performances by Dunphy on the album.

The second of the trifecta, “The Radial Night” has excellent lyrics laid out amid mellow, meandering melody. A song later, the triad concludes with “Out Of The Radial Night”, a stunning instrumental. The album concludes with “Nothing’s Harder Than A Song” which continues the thought behind the album’s first song. Here lies the dilemma for the album as a whole. There does not seem to be a well-linked story from start to end. There are two distinct components in “Untitled” / “Nothing’s Harder Than A Song” and the Radial Night triad. If continuity could have been gained through the relationship of other songs to these, and Dunphy’s vocals taking higher priority in the mixing, a better-rounded album may have been offered.

All art requires a story. The easier the story to understand, the better to grasp its components. Where there is a story here, it is difficult to identify its message, direction, and effect. Dw. Dunphy’s The Radial Night release is a musical adventure. Like all adventures, it has its ups and downs, its highs and lows.


Scott S Mertens


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