Album of the Week: Michael Dunstan conjures up calm on his debut LP In The Grand Scheme (2020 LP)

Thanks to the likes of Ziggy Alberts, Kyle Lionheart and Kim Churchill the Australian folk/surf rock scene is in fine form. Now, there’s a new name we can add to the list: Michael Dunstan. Though he’s far from a newcomer to the scene. 

In The Grand Scheme might only be his debut album, the Western Australian singer-songwriter has been plying his trade for a few years now, releasing a series of EP’s. And in the last eighteen months he has toured Australia four times and New Zealand twice. So he’s definitely getting himself and his music out there. 

And In The Grand Scheme deserves to be heard. It’s an impressive debut, filled with good vibes and impeccably delivered folk songs. At fourteen tracks, the album errs on the longer side. That said it still clocks in at under an hour, and such is the nature of the album it’s hardly a taxing listen. Instead, you find yourself wrapped within its mellow warm embrace, drifting through a soundscape of ethereal guitars and chilled vocals. It’s the perfect soundtrack to those lazy sun kissed Sunday afternoons by the beach or the woods. It’s a hammock and beers kind of record. But, that really undersells it too. But, if there’s one thing this album manages to convey well, is a sense of calm and serenity. 

There’s a consistency to In The Grand Scheme that’s admirable. With fourteen tracks, you’d be forgiven for thinking there was some filler mixed in there. But none of the tracks appear to be there just to make up the numbers. Admittedly, I have my favourites. Recent single “Smoulder Or Ignite” is one. It’s an uplifting and full of warmth, perfectly conjuring up images of campfires on the beach. Another favourite is “Fleeting Rainbow”. The groove and tone really works for me. It’s still quite mellow, but it’s one of the album’s more propulsive moments. The songwriting, though somewhat simple, is full of beautiful imagery, which just elevates the track for me. 

The quality of the songwriting across the album is strong. It’s clear that Dunstan puts a lot of thought and care into his lyrics. From what I’ve read it would seem that songwriting is a cathartic experience for Dunstan. Certainly, many of his listeners will no doubt find the themes he explores relatable and applicable to their own lives. 

In The Grand Scheme is a strong debut album, featuring quality songwriting, beautiful imagery and good vibes. Dunstan is a thoughtful and poetic songwriter and on this album he’s crafted a sound that’s mellow, yet full of warmth. It’s a welcoming soundscape, one that conjures up feelings of lazy Sunday afternoons, of contentment and calm. And I, for one, am very much here for it. 

FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Michael Dunstan’s In The Grand Scheme is released today. You can keep up to date with Michael via Facebook and Instagram.

To celebrate the release of the album Michael is of on a National tour. It all kicked off last night at the Rosemount Hotel in Perth, and will take in regional and metro venues across the country. Tickets are available HERE. $1 from every ticket will be donated to Happy Monday, the mission of his friend and touring member Daniel Hedley. Hedley is riding 6500kms from Brisbane to Perth on a Penny Farthing, with the aim to raise 1 million dollars for a variety of mental health organisations, including Beyond Blue and Headspace.

TOUR DATES

Fri 28th February | Link Theatre – Northam, WA
Sat 29th February | Cannery Arts Centre – Esperance, WA
Wed 4th March | Beer Garden Brewing – Port Lincoln, SA
Thu 5th March | Jive Bar – Adelaide, SA
Thu 12th March | Northcote Social Club – Northcote, VIC
Fri 13th March | The Boardwalk – Bendigo, VIC
Sat 14th | Macedon Ranges Music Fest 2020 – Gisborne, VIC
Thu 2nd April | The Factory Floor – Marrickville, NSW
Fri 3rd April | The Baroque Room – Carrington Hotel Katoomba, NSW
Sat 18th April | Byron Bay Brewery – Byron Bay, NSW
Fri 24th April | The Solbar – Maroochydore, QLD
Sat 25th April | Milk Factory Kitchen And Bar – Brisbane, QLD
Wed 13th May | The Basement – Belconnen, ACT

You can also find our Michael Dunstan curated guest playlist HERE

Simon Clark

Books Editor. An admirer of songs and reader of books. Simon has a PhD in English and Comparative Literature. All errant apostrophes are his own.

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