Patrick Dunn: A niche for storytelling

There are still those who believe music can and should tell a story.  Patrick Dunn is one of those people.

[By Rachel McFarland]

[Photo by Jencie Ferraro, Ferraro Photography]

There has been much ado lately about the demise of the album as an art form in today’s short-attention span culture.  Music now is mostly served up single-file, leaving the idea of an entire album of cohesive songs out in the dark.  Although more uncommon now, there are still those who believe music can and should tell a story.  Patrick Dunn is one of those people.

A singer-songwriter with folk leanings, Patrick is currently finalizing his second album, Unnatural Disaster.  Prior to this work, he released Down That Road, an album that adhered to his style as a musician acutely aware of the musical traditions of America- drawing influence from folk, country/bluegrass, blues, rock, and other “American” genres.  Also a part of this rich tradition? Storytelling.

Patrick’s niche for storytelling is well-honed; his music is raw, and the dichotomy of sad solemness with ardent fervor in his voice brings the listener back in time.  His music summons images of heading out west- to find a better life, to escape, to chase a dream.  This timeless quality lives in each song with the realization that people still do all of these things- heading to California has long been synonymous with change, experiences, and chasing dreams.  Patrick himself found his way here to LA, having also lived previously in Pennsylvania and Boston.  He now resides in Brooklyn, and credits these moves with influencing his desire to tell a story with his music.  In his travels he’s connected to the storyteller in all of us across the American landscape.  Its here he’s found “the old soul, the rambler, the traveling singer and songwriter”.

Because of this, there’s a little something for everyone in his music pulled from the various roots of the American musical tradition.  In songs like “Lady In Red” there is a more robust rock vibe; fans of folk-rock will enjoy songs like “Election Day Blues”, and fans of good old-fashioned love songs should check out “Taylor Jane” and “As This Sets In”. From his forthcoming album, folks will be drawn to the lulling, rocking vibe on “After The Flood” and “The Devil Outside Your Door”- the perfect juxtaposition to the story within.

Living in various places and remaining true to these old musical traditions, Patrick was able to shape this new album into a specific story- a story that continues and intertwines throughout.  Not one to believe the full-album format is dead for good in this typically one-track mind society, he took the idea of storytelling through music seriously, and has created an album with places, characters, conflict, insights, and more. His music has a connective quality- connective to other human beings, the human condition and experiences.  He wrote the songs as a resident of Los Angeles, which comes through in the story-a fictional story about a character named Addie Greene, “her husband, a flooding LA River, a burning house, an arsonist shot dead, and a paranoid grandfather.”

Unnatural Disaster uses various instruments synonymous with folk styles of music- banjos, mandolins, harmonicas.  Listening to the pre-master of a track available on his website, one can hear all the traditions of American music encompassed within- slow, rocking melody, easy strumming, deliberate plucking, and of course- the story in the lyrics.

While the new album has been recorded, the release date is TBD (although hopefully soon).  Patrick has recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to finish the mastering, artwork, and distribution.  You can check out his campaign here.

Hear Patrick Dunn’s music on his website: