Sometimes you need to dig deep to find unexpected gems. For fans of classic rock stemming from the heyday of the 70s (think Zep, Blue Öyster Cult, Rush), The Michael Dunn Project has unearthed a very enjoyable collection of nuggets. As the project’s namesake, Dunn has spent a good chunk of time in the music industry but hadn’t gotten around to releasing his own material. Until now. These kinds of albums can really pay off, benefitting from a musician’s lifetime of experiences which have been coalescing over decades until they finally release a salvo of well-curated inspiration. Whether “Bridge Across the Years” is a one-time bucket list project that Dunn finally got around to, or the start of a new recording career, the material herein makes for great listening, especially for the classic rock aficionado.
As the album cover makes clear, Dunn’s instrument of choice is the six-string Les Paul but this is no guitar hero shredding fest solo affair. Rather, Dunn goes for the ensemble approach where he is one member of the band and the focus is on solid rock songs. He’s enlisted talented musicians and singers to pull off his vision but a particular strength lies in the production and mix which ensures that every song sounds great. The source inspiration may be decades old but the engineering benefits from a modern yet organic sheen.
“I Draw The Line” is a strong opener, a solid rocker propelled forward by David Anania’s drum kit and Ginger Pimentel on the bass. Lead vocals for most of the album are satisfyingly delivered by Diego Viramontes who embodies the spirit of this genre. Dunn’s guitar sounds great, especially on his unhurried but effective lead playing which dominates the latter portion of the song. “Turn Of the Cards” follows with a stimulating use of strings to accentuate the chords in this tale of the role of lady luck plays in determining who gets the big breaks in the music biz. Featuring a great guitar solo break section, Dunn once again ends up building the energy toward the second half of the song to great effect.
The album takes a detour with “Let Me Be”, which turns out to be a mixed blessing. On one hand, it’s one of the most satisfying songs on the album, but it’s also the only track to feature George T. Montebruno’s excellent lead vocals, in addition to being drenched in Andy Tillison’s Hammond organ playing. Both of those elements stand out positively, but they are so distinct from the rest of the material that it feels like this song belongs on a different album. Maybe if Dunn had done a full album with Viramontes at the mic and then featured Montebruno as his singer on a follow-up album, these two worlds could have coexisted more solidly in their own right. No matter, it’s a winning track, with the pulsing rhythm section holding down the groove like a seasoned jam band.
“Tomorrow Is Today” benefits from the fluid violin playing of Joe Deninzon, who ultimately turns out a scorching solo that fits in perfectly with this rock context. It speaks to Dunn’s dedication to the ensemble approach, allowing others to shine instead of making this a guitar-heavy recording. Still, he does let the strings fly on “Another Day In The Modern World” amidst the surrounding drum hits of Eliot Doyle.
The centerpiece of the album unquestionably is the 11-minute closing title track, broken into three sections, which edges more towards progressive rock territory. There’s more than a little of “The Battle of Evermore” in the opening section “The Child”, its chiming acoustic guitar ringing out an epic vibe as Viramontes sings over top and eventually Amanda Lehmann brings in her complimentary vocals. “Metamorphosis” is generously spacious as we hang out in the acoustic vibe, the alchemy of this transformation requiring time to take hold. Finally, the metamorphosis is complete and we rock out for the final stretch into a carpe diem-styled anthem with Tillison getting to bring a little more Hammond to the proceedings.
In summary, “Bridge Across The Years” is a rewarding collection of songs that proves Dunn can ably succeed in this terrain. If he’s got more songs up his sleeve which have been gestating over the decades, look for a burgeoning new career to come forth.
Released By: Independent
Release Date: May 26th, 2023
Genre: Classic Rock / Prog Rock
- Michael Dunn / Guitars on all tracks
- Joe Alvaro / Bass on 3, 4, 5, 6
- David Anania / Drums on 1, 2
- Joe Deninzon / Violin on 4
- Eliot Doyle / Drums on 3, 4, 5, 6
- Marc Gladstone / Keyboards on 1, 2, 6
- Doug Gorkoff / Cello on 2
- Amanda Lehman / Backing vocals on 4, 6
- Finn Manniche / Cello on 2
- George T. Montebruno / Vocals on 3
- Ginger Pimentel / Bass on 1
- Ken ‘Spider’ Sinnaeve / Bass on 2
- Catherine St. Germain / Vocals on 6
- Andy Tillison / Hammond Organ on 3, 6
- Diego Viramontes / Vocals on 2, 4, 5, 6
- Cameron Wilson / Violin on 2
- Michael Kraushaar / Timpani on 6
“Bridge Across The Years” track-listing:
- Draw The Line
- Turn Of The Cards
- Let Me Be
- Tomorrow Is Today
- Another Day In The Modern World
- Bridge Across The Years
- The Child
- Metamorphosis (Instrumental)
- Can’t Stop Me Now (The Rising)
Order “Bridge Across The Years” HERE.
For fans of classic rock, take a chance on this new name who knows his way around making a song sound great. Having been “in the business” for decades, albeit behind the scenes, Michael Dunn comes to the fore with a skilled band and vocalists to deliver a very satisfying collection of songs. He both proves that it’s never too late, and that sometimes seasoned experience can pay off just as much youthful exuberance.