Misha Seeff 2021
Adolescent escapism as a means to coming of age lands on a reveries-filled album that may or not lead to Neverland.
Being very young, Misha Seeff has seen a lot of the world and seems to have had quite a lot of heartbreak. As a result, his “Dreamhaven” is a high-quality yet very much generic record which could pack a stronger punch if it was much shorter than 58 minutes, because 15 numbers feel a few too many for a debut album by any artist who doesn’t go for genre-hopping and stays in the comfort zone of soulful pop. Of course, any sort of comfort is a relative thing when you’re teenaged, and feelings poured into such cuts as the folk-informed, luscious ballad “Look Around” are genuine – and lines like “all the rumors stay like tumors” deserve a lot of acclaim – but neither simple acoustic groove or funk-driven chorus of opener “Now” can pull the listener into the moment.
Misha’s almost childish vocals, easily mistaken for female voice, may be rather arresting, especially in handclaps-helped a cappella spots, and the troubadour mode suits him well, rendering the title track, “April Haze” and other serenades almost sublime – although these would fare much better without dance beats that distract from the beauty of Seeff’s melodies – whereas the routine-describing skank of “Come And Go” or the strangely nostalgic “Sun Is Shining” and somewhat monotonous, if memorable, “Tonight” should fail to bring the emotional message home. And then there’s the effervescent “Apart” which marries infectious rhythm to warm harmonies and Latin-tinctured, falsetto-kissed “Lamplight” which is given a summery vibe, stricken with the singer’s own piano and punctuated with producer Ben Bernstein’s bass: this record’s defining pieces.
Cut “Dreamhaven” in half, and Seeff’s first effort will strike a chord with other juveniles; as it is, the album’s attempt to engage adult audience will hardly yield him a following.