Album Review: Dent May – Do Things

If you went to iTunes to buy The Good Feeling Music of Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele back in 2009, you got a sneak peek into the future that no one else got. That bonus track was called “Eastover Wivez”. After 35 lovely minutes of Dent May‘s ukulele harmonies, ocean sounds introduced the track as a MIDI flute and a 70s synth bass line floated in over a simple bass and snare drum sequence. The song was the complete opposite of anything else on the album in so many ways. Where Magnificent Ukulele was gimmicky, tongue-in-cheek, and comically self-aware, “Eastover Wivez” took May’s sound ahead of the game while maintaining his subtle sense of humor and his gorgeous harmonies. The track was released with “That Feeling” as a 7″ in 2010, and sure enough in 2011, May’s next 7″ single, holding Do Things tracks “Fun” and “Wedding Day”, took his odd mixture of synth pop and goofy vintage harmony one step further. Now, we have Do Things, Dent May’s first record for Paw Tracks, and his first LP to really show off his songwriting and arrangement in a fun, summery way.

Don’t get me wrong. Magnificent Ukulele is an absolutely beautiful record. Dent May has a gift for storytelling that lets his silly narratives tug your heartstrings on the first listen (“College Town Boy”, “At The Academic Conference”, et cetera). But what’s amazing about Do Things is that May doesn’t have to sacrifice any of it in making the adaption to his new sound. Not wanting to just live for making the “Rent Money” or be just like your “Parents” are stories anyone can relate to, and “Best Friend” may be the best song blatantly about love and friendship that’s come out all year. So when you cringe at the thought of these stories taking second fiddle to a fun synth lead, don’t worry. May keeps his lyrics at the priority just like he always has.

That being said, those fun synth leads are a lot more than that. May borrows from decades past in crafting these fantastic songs, taking drum sounds and keyboards right out of the 70s and accenting everything with funky guitar, whether it be acoustic or electric (May hasn’t given up stringed instruments completely). The bass line on “Don’t Wait Too Long” is murderous. The guitars on “Tell Her” and “Do Things” are unapologetically vintage. As Do Things goes on, you realize more and more why May has made the jump to the modern age: he just a lot more to offer than the simple arrangements of yesterday.

Do Things is out on Paw Tracks now! You can grab it on CD and vinyl at your local record store.

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