The Nashville artists leads with positivity and the promise of connection on his second full-length project.
It’s a negative world out there.
In the midst of a news cycle plagued by political upheaval and societal trauma, not to mention the seemingly permanent pause on most of the activities that bring us joy, we’re drained. Now, we’re in desperate need of a reprieve. Something lighter. Something a little more hopeful. Something new.
Enter Dreamer Boy, an indie pop ray of optimism tapered down by a cool, lo-fi exterior. His sophomore effort, All The Ways We Are Together, is a warm and inviting collection of breezy tunes inspired by the power of human connection. Overflowing in sincerity and wide-eyed wonder, the record explores our relationships with ourselves, each other, and the world around us.
Happiness is a rare commodity in media, but Zach Taylor takes these pockets of positivity and amplifies them tenfold, celebrating his moments of joy and centering his music around them. This sense of unbridled optimism is apparent just from his stage name, Dreamer Boy — despite a reality adamant on pragmatism, Taylor is unafraid to hope for something wonderful.
All The Ways We Are Together is bursting with this overwhelmingly pure purpose: to find magic in our surroundings. Evidently, it’s everywhere, and Dreamer Boy explores all of the crevices withing his reach to pull out even the smallest bits of wonder. His friends, his significant others, himself, and even his audience: no area is left unmarked by the artist’s earnest intentions. The title track, serving as the opener, almost breaks the fourth wall, reaching out to the listener in an attempt to forge a bond before embarking on the journey of the record. Over spiking synth accents and a vibrant piano melody, Dreamer Boy dives right in. “Tell me how you view this world. What kind of music do you listen to? What inspires those thoughts in your head?”
Tracks like “Joy” continue the trend, turning a simple movie night with a potential flame into a utopia of new feelings and the promise of something greater. At a run time of just over a minute, it’s a microdose of these moments of clarity, but the rush of romanticism — underscored by a snappy beat and decorated with a distorted guitar — is communicated perfectly. “Let’s Hold Hands,” the lone collaboration of All The Ways We Are Together featuring R&B upstart Melanie Faye, explores these early, innocent stages further. It’s a more laid-back track, the instrumentals and vocals both low-key, but still brimming with the excitement of navigating something new.
The record’s rosy disposition, though central to its ethos of optimism, isn’t the only apparent sentiment. Dreamer Boy grapples with insecurities, the passage of time, and the fear of never measuring up. “Mesa” peels back the layers of the artist’s persona of positivity, reaching out for anyone who will listen as he struggles with feeling helpless. “Didn’t want to break down, but I been up and down,” he admits, and it’s a rare glimpse of the lows among a record written about the highs. “Lightspeed,” despite its upbeat percussion and blinding synth lead, is another dimmer spot on the album. The lyrics explore the stark contrast between reality and world of dreams and fantasy, and on it, Dreamer Boy attests to feeling lost in this sea of seriousness.
But even on the darker cuts, there exists the sense of hope and connection. These tracks aren’t necessarily as happy-go-lucky as some of the others on the record, but they’re cathartic, healing. In airing out some of the more negative and somber sentiments, Dreamer Boy deepens the connection he set out to create with his audience.
The blending of instrumentals on All The Ways We Are Together result in a project that transcends genre. The staples of pop are alive and well, with bright synth lines and massive vocal layering highlighting tracks like earlier single “Know You” and “Lightspeed,” but the record is also rooted in acoustic influences. Single “Don’t Be A Fool” offers an acoustic guitar and a drum kit as its instrumental base, and the soundscape on “Bike” is dominated by a clean guitar.
Tracks that mix both current lo-fi electro-pop and classic acoustic instrumentation are the album’s most impressive. “Cry Baby,” one of the first single off All The Ways We Are Together, is anchored by the strums of an acoustic guitar, but the auto-tuned vocals offer a nuanced touch of color. “Easier Said Than Done” sounds like the instrumentals of the 80s were processed through the filter of modernity, a funky guitar paired with an electronic backbeat and a heavy bass line. The blend of genres, eras, and influences on All The Ways We Are Together takes the indie pop landscape and turns it on its head, incorporating elements of classic rock, hip-hop, and EDM to create a musical palette filled with different flavors.
It’s no coincidence that Dreamer Boy set today, Earth Day, for the album’s release. As a celebration of our surroundings, All The Ways We Are Together encourages us to connect with each other on an interpersonal level, to dive deeper into each other than the surface-level relationships perpetuated by a society that moves too quickly to anything meaningful to manifest. By the time “All Or Nothing,” anchored only by reverbed guitars and a distorted organ, fades into Dreamer Boy’s final mission statement, — “I don’t want to short your loving. All or nothing.” — the record’s attempts at connection feel complete. It’s a negative world out there, but with an infectious pop-adjacent sound fueled by earnest optimism, Dreamer Boy gives us something to smile about.
Check out All The Ways We Are Together below!