Music is frozen in time. A timeless art that will always reflect the era in which it was created. The artists who create this music, however, are not the same. They will age, they will grow and they will explore new markets of music just as Amy Lee has done with her new children’s album Dream Too Much.
Listen to the album preview here: https://soundcloud.com/evanescence-crew/amy-lee-dream-too-much-album-preview
Before delving into the world of children’s music Lee found success with American rock band Evanescence founded in Arkansas in 1995 by herself and original guitarist Ben Moody. The two met in Little Rock at a youth camp in 1994 and paired up to release a few independent projects and EPs from 1998 to 2000 when they released their first full length demo Origin, selling around 2,500 copies at concerts. Three years later, with the help of producer Pete Mathews and Diana Meltzer from Wind-up Records the band released their debut album Fallen including the iconic hit singles ‘Bring Me To Life’ and ‘My Immortal.’ With the original line up of Lee on vocals, Moody on lead guitar, John LeCompt on rhythm guitar and backing vocals, Rocky Gray on drums and percussion and Will Boyd on bass guitar, Fallen managed forty-three weeks on Billboard’s Top 10. The album was also certified 7x Platinum in the US and sold over seventeen million copies worldwide and provided Evanescene with their first UK number one single in the form of ‘Bring Me To Life.’ Still undoubtedly the band’s most well-known song.
After the success of their first album Moody announced he was leaving the band with Lee commenting that they ‘wouldn’t have been able to make a second record’ if he had stayed due to vast creative differences. Terry Balsamo in 2003 to replace Moody and continued with the band on their subsequent albums (The Open Door and Evanescence) until 2015 when the band once again went through a member shake up. Even with the revolving door of members the band continued to achieve monumental success, winning countless awards such as a Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 2004 and Lee winning the National Music Publishers Association Songwriter Icon Award in 2008. The current line-up of Lee, Troy McLawhorn (lead guitar), Will Hunt (drums), Tim McCord (bass guitar) and Jen Majura (rhythm guitar and backing vocals) are set to release their new album Synthesis on November 10th of this year. The album will feature a more dramatically re-imagined version of ‘Bring Me To Life’ and has already been digitally released.
Listen to ‘Bring Me To Life’ in the Synthesis style: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k5QFLV_lzeQ
As the band has continued to grow so has Lee. Marrying her husband, Josh Hartzler, in 2007 and giving birth to her son, Jack Lion Hartzler, in 2014. Playing and writing music all her life, Lee was eager to connect her love of both music and her family and did so on September 30th 2016 by releasing her first solo children’s album Dream Too Much. The album is not only child friendly but also includes members of Lee’s immediate family such as her father, uncle, sisters and even a small cameo from her son. Lee credits the album to her son, explaining how the idea began from her and her husband singing to Jack. She worried becoming a mother would put a hold on the project but found motherhood to be the perfect inspiration.
The album is nothing like the alternative rock sound of Evanescene but still encapsulates the creative genius of Lee. The humorous, soothing and bouncing sound of the album has a track for every mood a child could circulate through. ‘I’m Not Tired’ is a combination of both Lee and her sister’s voices that could be from the Disney film Marry Poppins and contains a tune to entertain children as well as comedic lyrics to make parents laugh. Lyrics like ‘I can hear you out there watching TV’, ‘I’ve forgot to floss, I’ve got to clean my room’ and ‘I need a drink of water’ are all musically pleasing and relatable. The song is practically a list of excuses a child would use so that they can stay up past their bedtime, connecting with both parents and children alike. As well as original music the album beings with the icon ‘Stand By Me’ by Ben E. King and ends with the Beatles’ ‘Hello, Goodbye’ to appeal to adult listeners too. Even without these additions the album contains songs like ‘Dream Too Much’ and ‘Alice’ that portray a professionalism of music that goes beyond that of a children’s album. ‘Dream Too Much’ especially could be released as a solo single without association to an album created for children. The wholesome, family orientated album is a burst of fun and educational songs that push the creativity of music as some songs even feature toys being used as instruments!
As a long-time fan of Evanescence I was curious when I heard Amy Lee had released a children’s album but only found myself wishing she could have done so during my own childhood. Even if it’s still something I can enjoy in my twenties!
Review by Skye W. Winwood