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Single Review: Kēvens – “Legal Dreamers”

In his new single “Legal Dreamers,” singer Kēvens continues what he started with his debut in establishing himself as one of the hardest-hitting young players to come out of the underground in recent times. Right from the first beat forward, “Legal Dreamers” presses us with its muscularity whilst adhering to a fairly efficient song structure, putting Kēvens’ vocal at the forefront of the mix before any of the instrumental components. It’s a beefy listen for sure, but one that I would recommend reggae fans give a close examination before the summer season comes to an end.

The melodic play that we begin the song with is more than pivotal to the construction of a melody here; it’s what sets the mood for the entirety of the song. There’s so much tension being harvested from the moderate harmony Kēvens forges with the drum parts in “Legal Dreamers,” and yet his controlled delivery of the lyrics prevents the narrative from feeling overwhelmingly suffocating or emotionally overbearing. Reggae audiences in 2023 don’t have time for the trite complacency that’s implied by lyrics about traditional themes exclusively – there’s heart to this, but more importantly, poetic value.

This master mix is perhaps the most streamlined of Kēvens’ career thus far, but I don’t think it’s any sort of indication that he’s planning on selling out his sound anytime soon. There’s something to be enjoyed about an instrumental arrangement that doesn’t invite a lot of synthetic nonsense into the final product, and through the crisp filtration we find here, we’re able to enjoy even the most minute of details without feeling as though we’re listening to a relatively inaccessible studio rough cut. Simply put, it’s polished but not the degree of its creative soul getting lost in translation.

I will say that while the bassline in this track is a bruiser for sure, it doesn’t yield any of the pseudo-surreal noise spillages I’ve heard in a lot of similarly-stylized alternative reggae in the last few months. I don’t get the impression from Kēvens that he has any desire to tether himself to some of the artsier movements out of Miami right now; there’s something more abrasive and freeform in his aesthetic telling me he’s more inclined to keep his music simple in the name of avoiding any unexpected barriers between himself and the audience.

A robust addition to a growing discography of interesting tracks, “Legal Dreamers” should be more than enough to please both Kēvens’ fan base as well as those casual dub/reggae fans who are in the mood for something a little different this summer. I’ve been keeping up with the underground out of the southeast for years now, and while the talent pool has never been quite as overflowing with quality players as it is in 2023, there’s no debating whether or not Kēvens stands out in this most recent release. He’s closing in on a signature sound, and that’s more than obvious just when looking at some of the basic elements that comprise this smash of a new single and music video.

Matthew Johns

About Michael Stover

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