"Unbounded" by Dean MacDonaldReview
Following the very successful release of "Inflamed " in late May, today, Dean MacDonald shares with us the next track from his recent 14 Records recordings for his forthcoming debut solo album ‘Just Me', namely "Unbounded".
If unravelling why these particular tracks are appearing under his own name rather than with his very successful band The Session is becoming an interesting exercise, then I think that "Unbounded" is probably the easiest so far to understand as a pure Dean track.
Over the course of the many Session releases, Dean's lyrics naturally cover a wide range of topics and interests, but if you delve down into them and look for patterns, then you might be surprised how rarely he creates that absolute staple of the songwriter: the love song. I'm not at all sure that he sees this as anything which needs to be "put right": I find him a very confident writer who creates what he feels comfortable with and what he feels he'd like to address: including recently several clear challenges to racism & racists. Nevertheless, he has now written a genuine love song and he describes it as "…an open love song to the wife really. I tend not to write too much soppy stuff but this is definitely one of those", so we can see why he is putting it out as a solo release and not with The Session, as it is simply too personal to do otherwise: it's purely his own message and needs to come across as such. I am interested in Dean's use of the word "soppy" though: it makes him sound rather defensive of writing such material and maybe opening his heart to the world on something quite so personal. However I think that in itself is a strength of "Unbounded": not only as a comparative rarity within his body of work (and let's face it, variety is always a positive), but the feeling that with this song he is stretching the boundaries of his own writing comfort zone only adds greater resonance to the emotional truth and sense of sincerity within it. If he feels a little uneasy in revealing these aspects of his feelings, then I suspect that just adds edge to the honesty. Great truths can sometimes hurt a little & not necessarily in a bad way.
And so it is with "Unbounded": the heart is definitely on his sleeve as we have long come to expect with this artist and the passion and integrity of the feelings expressed unmistakeable.
As I said in reviewing "Inflamed", my initial assumption that "solo" tracks would be stripped back in terms of arrangement compared with his band was far from the mark. Once again Dean & producer Matt Waddell have come up with a rich tapestry of sounds, though admittedly not necessarily the ones The Session might have deployed and this is a joyful rock song with a very gentle intimate feel. He could so easily have gone for a ballad format given the lyrics, but that might have over sentimentalised them. Though gentle, it rocks along like no ballad & very thankfully they have side swerved the dreaded trap of the power ballad in doing so. At times one feels as if one is peering in to the intimate details of a real marriage (well of course that is what we are doing) but not in an embarrassing way: in fact the song, quite properly can be taken as more universal, applying to the experiences of the listener as much as the singer. This move should help ensure its popularity as audiences recognise their own relationships being described.
This single is as radio friendly as everything else Dean has done by himself or collectively and deserves to go onto appropriate playlists: quite what his intentions are for live performances of his solo material remain to be seen at this point, but judging by the myriad of Session gigs taking place (boy are they making up for lost time) there can hardly be the time at the moment for him to consider & schedule occasions on which to play these songs. Given time though, I'm sure people will very much wish him to do so.