Thursday, May 30 2024

Dylan Galvin, a Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter, showcases his talent for storytelling and nostalgia in his latest release: a cover of The Beatles’ 1965 song, ‘Norwegian Wood.’ Known for his blend of acoustic folk-pop with cinematic elements, the track has been produced by Dylan himself along with Austin Moorhead and mixed by Harper James. Inspired by recent industry trends favouring timeless music and spurred by Beyoncé’s acclaimed cover of The Beatles’ (well, Macca’s) ‘Blackbird,’ Dylan’s rendition seeks to reaffirm the enduring allure of old classics. The tribute arrives as a timely homage and offers a fresh take on a beloved song… and, one of my personal Fab Four faves.

A quick disclaimer: I’m not going to review this track by constantly comparing and contrasting the differences between Dylan’s version and the original. But, I will have to mention bits occasionally so I can highlight key areas, so forgive me…

Being a nerd, the first thing I noticed was that Dylan’s version adds roughly an extra 75 seconds to the length of the original. Meaning, he’s either opted to play the track really, really slowly… or, he’s tweaking and twisting and doing all kinds of magicery things. My interest is piqued before I even hit ‘play.’

The intro is great – it’s the guitar tune we all know and it has been augmented with some gentle piano (instead of sitar) that highlights and then develops the melodic line. The production is clean, and I mean clean. It sounds really nice and brings the vibe up to date. The guitar sounds smooth and polished. Once the vocals enter, the guitar becomes more muted to allow the voice to really shine. And, shine it does. Dylan has a voice that doesn’t have the thick confidence of John – there’s a fragility, more in line with singers like Elliott Smith – and it adds a completely different color to the track for me. It feels sad. Melancholic. Vulnerable.

Some nice harmonies thicken the verse before we change gears at about 30 seconds and into the chorus (“She asked me to…”), and the song’s first ‘lift’ occurs. More instruments join the track—doubled guitars, pads, strings, possibly a mandolin? Whatever it all is, it works well. Then, as we fall back into verse 2, Dylan employs a clever technique of double-tracking the lead vocal so that the dynamic level built-up previously is somewhat maintained, and the track doesn’t essentially have to go back to square one. Harmonies again join in, but now there’s more confidence or urgency, and the vocals are really shining as we hit the second ‘chorus.’

Dylan Galvin Singer Songwriter

But, where do we go from here… now we’ve been built-up, what next? Well, an electric guitar solo is what. And, it works. It is huge – it’s cinematic – it’s actually pretty special. Toms are beating underneath, there’s a goddamn orchestra, and there’s enough reverb to make you feel like you’re floating! The movement in the melody lifts you up before gently bringing you back down to just the acoustics. A master class in dynamics!

Then, before we know it, we’re into the final verse and a clever outro that adds some chords and winds things down in a much gentler, and, truth be told, musical manner that those Liverpudlian lads did.

So, was it worth it? Was there any need for Dylan to cover this classic? In my humble opinion… it’s an emphatic yes! The Beatles wrote songs – they were uber-talented songwriters and knew how to perform for the songs. But, they wrote songs, and especially in the early days, kept things pretty simple arrangement wise. What Dylan and co. (credit to the production and mixing crew!) have done is taken a quite straightforward acoustic song, wonderful as it is, and made it a journey. The word ‘reimagined’ exists for a reason and for me, this is why. Dylan could have played it safe and used a backing track of the original to just highlight his voice (ala Beyoncé in my humblest of opinions). Instead, he went to town – he blew the roof off this version – he showed respect to the original song but brought out the whistles and bells and made it current. And, for me, the journey he created it is one I’ll be taking quite a few times.

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Review

Summary

Dylan Galvin’s rendition of The Beatles’ ‘Norwegian Wood’ offers a journey through folk-pop nostalgia, featuring intricate production and heartfelt vocals. With added depth and cinematic flair, Dylan’s cover pays homage to the classic while carving out its own distinct space.
89%
Captivating Reimagination

Rating

Song Quality
Vocal Performance
Lyrics
Instrumentation
Production

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About Author

Matt Warren

Matt Warren is a Cheshire based musician who studied contemporary music and composition. When not writing for The Indie Grid he enjoys watching 'Breaking Bad' on continuous loop and going to gigs. Since a youngster his fave band have been 'The Beatles' (with 'Cardiacs' in at a close second)... and this still applies to this day.

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