Let's Go Do What Happens (Razor & Tie)
Francis Dunnery

By Dan Burns

If you turn to the center of the booklet of Francis Dunnery's new CD, Let's Go Do What Happens, you will no doubt notice a fairly nondescript, white box with some fairly nondescript black type that reads "It's all a big hallucination." If this is indeed the case, I'll tag along with Mr. Dunnery for the balance of the trip, because this guy has the sunniest of dispositions. When you combine this seemingly non-jaded world-view with a sense of humor and a penchant for writing remarkable pop songs, you certainly have all the ingredients for a great record, and that is exactly what Dunnery has delivered.

This British Isles artist loves America more than most of us. Starting with his first solo album Fearless and his first should-have -been-a million-selling-single "American Life In The Summertime," Dunnery has peered across the big pond, not with disdain (see Oasis, The Verve, et al.), but with a genuine longing to understand and – more importantly – experience the U.S.A.

The love affair continues on this album with tunes like 'Riding On The Back." Although not ostensibly about America, one of the song's protagonists has moved to New York City to clear his head and create some "music that is free." This tune – arguably the album's most ambitious – is set against a gorgeous backdrop of flutes and brass, and its' jazzy lope brings to mind a Moondance-era Van Morrison composition. It has more characters and plot twists than a James Ellroy crime noir novel, and the horn blasts punctuate it in all of the right places. An outstanding, funny, poignant achievement, all in less than five minutes which, by the way, is about half the time it takes Dave Matthews to spit out one of his derivative, boring tunes these days.

Buoyed by some computer modem sound effects and one of Dunnery's trademark "out of nowhere" pop hooks, "Crazy Is A Pitstop" (think about that title for a moment) sounds like the result of a Brian Wilson/Roger Waters all-night writing session. Elsewhere, "Jonah" and "Home In My Heart" are indeed heartfelt. "Sunflowers" soars, thanks to some relentless guitar riffing, and "Whoever Brought Me Here" combines just the right amount of jangle, boasts an ingenious and slightly psychedelic extended bridge and succeeds lyrically at being both funny and sad simultaneously.

Pushed throughout by some serious "in-the-red" production and nifty guitar effects, this is the first great summertime record of '98. In a perfect world, the catchy strains of "My Own Reality," "Riding On The Back" and, especially, "Sunflowers" would provide the soundtrack for the upcoming dog days, blasting out of Mazdas and Fords in 7-1 1 parking lots from Austin to Boston. Alas, this probably will not happen, but you shouldn't deny yourself the pleasure. Let's Go Do What Happens can bring a smile to the most cynical and/or world-weariest among us.