Singer, multi-instrumentalist, and producer Byron Lee Scott should not really be labeled bandleader of the Harmony Dreamers Project. Coordinator or orchestrator are better titles and infinitely more appropriate. The Harmony Dreamers Project brings musicians and singers from across the globe under one creative banner. They contribute to a collection of positive and family-minded originals penned by Scott, but these aren’t intended as empty entertainments. Scott’s musical substance is on full display as the arrangements for these songs include diverse instrumental touches such as clarinet and vibraphone, among others.
I Come from Earth opens with its title song. The elastic funk-inspired workout has a mix that’s a little off at some points, over-emphasizing the vocal, but the collected missteps aren’t enough to pull the track off course. It is far wrier than laugh-out-loud funny, a hallmark of the overall intelligence governing Scott’s songwriting, and musically top-notch. “Pass It On” is a guitar-peppered synth-pop with an ethereal tilt in its vocal harmonies and production values. It isn’t an up-tempo number but maintains a steady momentum that helps sweep listeners away.
Scott introduces the track “Sophie and Pearl” as a song “about two kitty-cats” and launches us into a light and swinging jaunt complete with an accompanying children’s chorus. If you think, however, you can dismiss the performance as unmitigated fluff, Scott’s songwriting drops clarinet into the mix to deepen the song’s musical value. “No Stopping” has a prog-rock-like approach that many longtime fans of the genre will enjoy and the vocal production scores with its evocative ambiance.
“The First Song Suite” is an interesting but also a dizzying hodgepodge of different styles over five plus minutes. Some of these stylistic choices make excellent bedfellows, but others miss. Some listeners are going to be overwhelmed by Scott’s willingness to cram a bevy of musical ideas into a relatively small window. Others, however, will hear surprising audaciousness in his ability to juggle several musical balls without ever dropping one. They will be even more impressed by the album’s second “big” number, the sprawling multi-part suite “Spinning ‘round the Sun”.
Synthesizers dominate much of this ambitious second suite. The opening section, “Connected”, is an earnest song in full while the second part, “Loving the Sun”, has a much clearer instrumental slant. “Solar Rays”, the third and final section of the suite, concludes the track with a flourish, but never too much of one. It is a bold and somewhat unexpected move for Scott to spread his compositional wings so far on a release with this avowed purpose. “Spinning ‘round the Sun”, however, is a substantive and playful musical statement that prioritizes connecting with listeners above wowing them with superior musical skill.
The Harmony Dreamers Project is, ultimately, guided by that sort of musical aesthetic. Byron Lee Scott’s project has a rare purpose and certainly has an important message to bring listeners without ever making any overt statement. The musical imagination present in I Come from Earth’s songs will reach a wide audience and has lasting value.