D2D (Dare To Dream) - What's Your Dream (2011)

D2D (Dare To Dream)

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Art, despite all of the varying forms with which it's conveyed, boils down to one simple truth----expression. It takes skill and synergy for a group to create music out of emotions and experiences, which is what abounds in the sprawling collective, What's Your Dream.

As the upbeat opener proclaims, "It came from the heart and you're bound to like something"; and what listeners will hear is an enthusiastically eclectic mix of jazzy R&B with fringes of hip-hop. The songs run the gamut of styles and subject matter, combining electronic media with live instruments. D2D is comprised of lead vocalist K Mac (Kenny McNeil), JJ and Matt Shell (and with a few songs featuring the sweet soprano of Alisha Endre and others featuring Elle Marchelle). Among the standouts is the  gentle, windswept "Forever," which describes the emotion of discovering a new love within an old friendship; meanwhile "Time For Bed" is a blunt synthesized call to, ahem, action ("It's time for bed, what's it gon' be/ you should be laying underneath or on top of me").  "Identity" speaks to the duplicity that even friends and lovers have with the ones they love, and how such selfishness leads to isolation and heartbreak: "And then you take a look around, it seems like nobody's around/ the kids are grown, you cheated so your partner is gone, it feels like you're all alone."

It should be pointed out that, in spite of a majority of the songs being optimistic and uplifting "(Inspire Me," "To My Heard from My Heart," "Forever," "Around You"), another noteworthy track was born out of stress and sadness. "We'll Find A Way" was the brainchild of Mr. Shell, who composed the song with K Mac out of agony over his mother's pending biopsy, which inspired fellow band mate JJ to chime in and contribute to the emotional tempest (that, thankfully, had a happy ending): "We have every reason to scream '(expletive) the world'/can't take the money to the underworld. So we live and we pray and proceed to maintain from day to day to day/one thing that will always stay the same is change."

With sixteen tracks (two of them are electronica and house-inspired dance remixes) fueled by ability and ambition, What's Your Dream may be a bit overwhelming to take in with one sitting, but it's an engaging and heartfelt endeavor. Future recordings should lay off the monotonous Auto-Tune and pump up the funk element (it's merely hinted at in the contagious club jam, "No More 9 to 5"), but if you yearn for the unconventional, Dare to Dream can take you there and provide an inspired audio journey in the process. Recommended.

By Melody Charles