Coming from a musical background including such heavy hitting names in post-hardcore like Dance Gavin Dance and Emarosa along with guest spots on several gorgeous songs and filling the vocalist position for A Skylit Drive for a short period, Jonathan Monroe Craig has the credentials to do as he pleases with his music. With these words in mind, Dr. Craig emerges from his post-hardcore shell in the form of a groove oriented, acid jazz influenced, indie album which bears a title from an X-Files episode, A Dream Is A Question You Don’t Know How To Answer. Containing perfectly executed use of many different musicial instruments and genres, the audio which ensnares you enlightens the Craig audience to his true ability to smoothly transition from one form of music to another flawlessly.
Sadly beginning this record is the first of two ‘filler’ tracks, “So Many Of Us Hide Our Black Hearts”. After a mildly disappointing minute and 16 seconds, you are thrown into the third installment of Jonny’s “I Still Feel Her” series which began on Emarosa’s Relativity. The song contains a drum and bass combo to make you bob your head all fronted by nice lead guitar lines throughout. Jonny’s voice slowly creeps into the song immediately with a strong, yet set back, “Ahhh” before jumping into the verse. The song continues to showcase Jonnny from the ethereal and delicate to the overpowering strength and width of his voice, as does the entirety of the album.
What is most interesting, and most likely least heard, is the beautiful harmonies and subtle instrumentation in the background. The chorus of “Istillfeelher PartIII” is laden with a beautiful harmony part that encompasses both ears, but Jonny’s strong vocals take over center stage with how it is placed in the mix. While it is meant to be subtle, once heard, you can’t help but realize the beauty of it. Many moments of such subtle vocal beauty lay throughout each track, and even within the music. From the use of a finger snap on every other snare hit during “I’ve been Hearing That You’re Freaky” during sections of it along with the “woo oo oo oo” coming into the right ear while an echo of Jonny comes into the left shows not only Kris Crummet’s phenomenal production, but the perfection that was strived for to have everything and everyone bring something to the table. One last subtley to point out is the harmony being sung into the right ear during the chorus of “The Garbage Pail Kid Gang Bang”. Subtle- yet beautiful.
As the album continues, you hear everything from an R&B influenced, piano driven song, “I’ve Been Hearing That You’re Freaky,” an electronically based track with a supporting acoustic guitar, “7 AM, 2 Bottles and the Wrong Road”, and wraps it all up with a straight up acoustic track, “Children of Divorce”. The only downfall as the album spins is the second ‘filler’ track, “No Matter How Hard I Dig They Always See Right Through Me” which basically picks up where the first track left off and 2 minutes later ends, to no one’s dismay.
Being at the forefront of a drowning scene, a lot of weight has been put onto Jonny’s shoulders as a vocalist, and he ceases to do anything but pull through on his abilities and continue to reach farther. Whether it be the heavy hitting melodic width of his voice, to the subtle, celestial whisper every now and again, the man is nothing less than amazing and is on a level all his own. As the first solo record released by Rise, not only should the label be proud, but the scene that backs him should scream with enthusiasm for his abilities are only growing.