Review: David Dunn – Yellow Balloons

Production Quality
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BEC Records artist David Dunn releases his second album on February 17th, 2017. His 2015 release of “Crystal Clear” was sonically innovative and lyrically challenging. For this release, Dunn continues to expand his vocal and songwriting talent through musical variance and lyrics that touch the soul. His inspiration for many of the songs on this album come out of a tragedy that touched David and his family nearly two years ago. While visiting his sister and his nieces for a show in his hometown in Texas, one of the girls never woke up from her nap. The pain and sorrow of this loss inspired the title of the album and many of the songs on it. Though borne from a difficult circumstance, Yellow Balloons is a beautiful collection of songs that fans are sure to enjoy.

Starting with a toe tapping, snapping guitar riff and rhythm, Dunn leads into the album with “Kingdom”. True to its name, the song is about the reality that the Kingdom of God is here and now. We often look forward to the Kingdom as a future reward, but this song reminds us that it’s in us. In the bridge, Dunn sings the part of the Lord’s prayer that says “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done,” which is so powerful. The instrumentation is simple yet balanced with the vocals.

Track 2, “Open Arms” has laid back verses, and the power comes in during  the chorus with louder vocals that sing of the constancy of God, with his open arms when we wander off. “We are weak enough to drown upon the waves, but strong enough to crucify you again and again,” is a powerful juxtaposition that we face in life as we grapple with faith and doubt. With relatable lyrics and a good guitar solo in the middle, this song is one that stands out on the album.  

A softer guitar introduction leads into “Grace Will Lead Me Home”. The instrumentation on this track is laid back with a synth chord progression for the chorus. A song about hope in the midst of the trials of life, the lyrics convey a deep-seated faith in the grace of God.

“I Don’t Have to Worry” reminds fans of the musical style of his previous album, with a synth keeping smooth and steady chords throughout the song. “What am I so afraid of?/ “cause You hold the world within Your hands/ And that includes my circumstances” are clever and catchy lyrics from the pre-chorus. The bridge of the song comes from Romans 8:28, where David sings “You’re working all things together for good” and it serves as a great reminder for listeners to carry with them throughout their day. Along the same lines, the current radio single “I Wanna Go Back” has an inviting beginning into the verse. The song references wanting to return to a childlike faith in God “to Jesus loves me this I know/ for the Bible tells me so”, the simple truth of the Gospel. The chorus is incredibly catchy, and the inclusion of the old Sunday school song “Jesus Loves Me” within the lyrics is brilliant.

Dunn uses a lot of metaphors in his songwriting, and they’re not the typical “Christian music metaphors” either. His are unique, and it’s one of the things that makes him stand out as an artist. Track 8 likens the devastation in our lives to “Ruins”, and with ruins, there is the unmistakable hope of rebuilding. “What if the rubble you stand in/ are the perfect pieces that the builder needs?” are lyrics that show just that. Not only lyrically exceptional, Dunn shows his diverse vocal talent by climbing up and down his vocal range in the chorus of the song.

“History” is a head bopping tune played in a minor key. An acoustic guitar tastefully flavors the song beneath strong and stripped down vocals. In terms of instrumentation, the vocals and guitar are the focal point of this track. Percussion and piano is very minimal.

Passionately sung is track 8, Masterpiece. While being synth- heavy, the lyrics are also incredibly penetrating. “My life is a series of misses of constantly kissing perfection goodbye/ My life is a work that’s unfinished, a heart that keeps quitting, a cup that runs dry” are thought-provoking lyrics from the pre-chorus. A treat to the ears on this album is the featured talent of Manwell Reyes of Group 1 Crew rapping the bridge to some sick beats.

I think all people can relate to “Vacation”. In a busy and hectic world with pressure coming from all sides, this track is a soul’s desperate plea for some rest. The piano carries the melody and supports vocals that personify pure exhaustion and a desire for a break.

The title track closes the album, wrapping all of it’s themes in a unique way. Completely raw and stripped down, David sings this track from a deeply felt sorrow. “Yellow Balloons” is a beautiful tribute to his niece, but it also comes from an honest heart that questions why tragedies happen. Sure to stir emotions in listeners, this display of vulnerability in a song ends the album on a bittersweet note.   

Overall, Yellow Balloons definitely provides a variety of musical style and a high quality of songwriting. David Dunn has exceptional vocal talent and range, which is displayed in each and every track of the album. There is no mistaking the hard work he has put into this release.

There is always a certain degree of risk that an artist feels when trying to channel personal emotions into music that other people will hopefully like. There are fears of being too honest or not honest enough, but David’s rendering of his circumstances into a cohesive work of art is done in a balanced way. Even more, the message of Yellow Balloons is that despite tragedy, God is real and faithful, and it’s well communicated throughout.

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