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A Deeper Understanding sounds like a younger Bob Dylan joined by the E Street Band and the Heartbreakers.
I would listen to this album while driving in the desert at night or looking at the stars from my back porch.
A Deeper Understanding would make a good soundtrack for a Richard Linklater movie or an episode of “Stranger Things.”It’s all about introspection and the passage of time.
With A Deeper Understanding, singer/songwriter Adam Granduciel pulls off the difficult trick of honoring musical influences while creating something unique. This spacious and mystical album takes the best elements of Springsteen, Petty, and Neil Young and weaves such styles into a meticulously arranged, cinematic soundscape. Layers and layers of synthesizers swells, swirling guitars, driving drumbeats and punctuating glockenspiels make previous War on Drugs albums appear stripped down by comparison. And while Granduciel would likely be the first to admit he’s no Bob Dylan when it comes to lyrics, he avoids clichés by cloaking his messages in mystery—an approach that enables listeners to project their own hopes and dreams onto the songs.
As much as 2014’s Lost in a Dream functions as War on Drugs’ guitar album, you can hear hints of where the band was headed if you listen closely. The expansion of electronic textures and more intricate studio manipulation on A Deeper Understanding enable Granduciel’s arrangements to carry more emotional weight. The production, which Granduciel says required a year of intensive work in eight studios, glows with an analog warmth absent from many of the early 80s albums that inspired the project. It doesn’t hurt that Greg Calbi mastered the album at Sterling Sound.
The choice to spread 10 tracks over four sides on two LPs conveys the prodigious bass and rollicking drums vital to the work’s energy and impact. The moody studio photography, beautifully rendered on rough stock paper throughout the packaging, captures the introspective vibe. Lyric and production credits are printed on graphically attractive inserts. The only downsides? One of my discs is not ruler flat and the disc inserts lack vinyl liners. You also hear more surface rush than you would on the very best vinyl pressings, but it doesn’t distract once the music starts.
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