Kyle Dion Presents a Soundtrack to Celebrate to on “Placebo”

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Photo: Grease

Tense always matters in language, less so in music, its ethereal branches can be both deep-rooted and narrowing into the sky. Kyle Dion is an artist best described as future progressive tense (something that will occur in the future and continue for an expected amount of time). He is a man of musical gifts that feel nearly present: words about to be spoken, gestures about to gesticulated, love about to be throttled through your heart. Emotive yes, but lingering with thoughtfulness, music for future nostalgia, a time about to be lived. 

If one is to credit Dion with his nouveau approach to songcraft, much of its foundational text is found on the standout tracks from his previous album SUGA, specifically the breakout hit "Brown," a sound whose prose is comfortable adjacent to the leatherbound soul classics of Marvin Gaye, Al Green, Michael Jackson, and Usher. Describing his albums as characters, SUGA was indeed "serious," a voluminous effort by any eras standards, filled with emotional plights, a scripture of love - inopportune, unfulfilled or frustrated. The seriousness of the work is of course appreciated only after judging its ambition, a cursory glance of any one song won't land the long approach he took. But in totality, it reads like a tome, a prologue to the listener's own emotional narrative.

Chapters are built for contrast, and with the passing of time, his latest work is clearly bound to the pandemic - a time when Dion sought "creative relief" in music again, an amplified life celebrating the banal, the everyday, a party of the minor and mundane. On his latest single "Placebo," Dion continues the playful voraciousness found in his previous release, the Kari Faux-assisted "Purr." In his latest outing, Dion provides a wavy R&B groove that will slipstream effortlessly into any and all summer jam playlists (if any doubt existed, enter '90s fire feature JaRule, the Nobel laureate of cookout jams).  

And with the announcement of a forthcoming album, due out August 20, Dion is clearly authoring a new era of his memories. It is a sound much more reflective of a new protagonist, one who is fun-loving, irreverent but making a point. The future album is a work of optimism, "keeping the spirit" of the prior work but turning the page; never writing the same song twice, a fresh statement defying prior conventions but also "eviscerating any doubt" of his writing prowess. 

One of Dion's gifts is clearly his scope, the breadth and depth of his talent are not poured into one paragraph or song but over a terrain of musicality that if it wasn't done so with an infectious fervor, it might seem arrogant. That risk is what all great writers, songwriters especially, take on their path to success, and with his latest effort, we can expect a hip-turning, smile-inducing love poem to living in the moment. Welcome back world, time for the present tense, poetry in bars, and Dion's soundtrack rife for celebration. 

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