Review: Cody Dear – Songs Like These
Jazz musician Cody Dear is part of a burgeoning Instagram music community devoted to sharing, collaborating with, and encouraging musicians internationally.
Dear is a Los Angeles-based multi-instrumentalist who plays a fusion of R&B, jazz, soul, and funk. On Instagram, Dear is quickly gaining traction by covering his own versions of others’ songs on the electric keyboard. Dear’s hands fly all around the keyboard with electrifying quickness and adeptness, often utilizing the pitch bend wheel to create a unique sound. As a testament to his many collaborations with renowned artists, Dear even started his own hashtag–#CodyDearChallenge–which invited his followers to create accompaniments over his original arrangements. The hashtag quickly spread, with many Internet fans (and friends) sharing their own versions of the song. He even got Can Nguyen from popular dance troupe, Poreotics, to groove out to it with a personalized dance.
But even though Dear has had a lot of success by working with collaborators, his debut album Songs Like These proves that he can fare just as well on his own. Last year he released his first single, “Promposal,” an upbeat jam featuring female vocalist Jada Banks-Mace. As a universal song about love, this song takes it a step further by evoking nostalgic feelings about high school romance. It is featured along with seven other songs on his debut EP, Songs Like These, which compiles everything from pop, to soulful jazz, to spoken word. One of the highlights off of the album, “Jim and Pam,” sweetly reminisces of a time when one experiences the feelings of love and loss. The lyrics are intelligent, speaking about how “Even the strongest coffee / Wasn’t as bitter / With you by my side.” (And yes, the song is inspired by the The Office couple.) Dear even recorded a live rendition of this song for the 2019 NPR Tiny Desk Contest.
All the other songs on the album are instrumental and are reminiscent of improvised jazz solos. Although each song is fundamentally different, Dear’s songs seem to follow a recurring theme of spontaneity. The best moments on Cody Dear’s Songs Like These are when the direction of the songs start to go down a new path, while still communicating the same idea (“Yoga Room,” “S Rank”). Just as soon as one figures out the main melody, individual instruments such as the saxophone, electric guitar, electric bass, and keyboard break out in unexpected solos. All instruments in the band are represented, taking the spotlight for as long as a minute and a half to share their expertise before returning to the original melody as a full band. Each composition feels contemplative, poised, and joyful.
Produced by Manifest Music, the songs on Songs Like These pop with color. Guidance from professional sound engineers is evident in how well-balanced the production is and has allowed Dear, an independent musician, to fully showcase his skills. Dear is actively finding a new audience interested in listening to new forms of jazz by reaching out on social media platforms like Instagram. In Songs Like These, Dear shares his talent with confidence and style.