After 11 months of anticipation, fans of DEAN can now rest easy and revel in some truly marvelous new music. On Feb. 16 single album “Limbo” was released with a small amount of fanfare—Dean hosting a 30-minute countdown to the premier of the music video for lead single “Come Over.” After admittedly having the inevitable artist’s slump and a bit of anxiety over expectations from fans and his own high standards, many wondered exactly what direction he would go. With the lead single’s two teasers, fans anticipated something spectacular. Without becoming bogged down in hyperbole, that’s just what they got.
1. The Unknown Guest
For the opening track Dean forgoes the grandiose production most are used to and opts for a seeming homemade recording of himself and a piano. He lights a candle, takes a breath and suddenly we are in another dimension on the back of his lilting vocal delivery. This is the most pared down most have heard Dean, an artist who takes great care in his compositions and oftentimes goes for the musically complex. But here, even in the thin spaces of sound, Dean is at his most self-indulgent, truly forcing the ear to zero in on even the smallest detail: the flat white space between notes, the almost lazy twine of his delivery, the tinkling steps and half steps as he navigates an seemingly impromptu melody.
It’s a common lament, cursing the sky for its tears as he wallows in regret. It’s almost as if Dean woke up from a thought or a painful memory and had to get it out before the images of his dream faded completely. He revealed the song was about after a long time, remembering a lover in dreams, her presence entering his mind like an uninvited guest. From the sorrow and raw honesty in both composition and vocal performance, a listener would guess that’s exactly what happened when he sat down to record this piece.
2. Beyond/Come Over (feat. Baek Yerin)
Dean’s collaboration with 15& vocalist Baek Yerin garnered its own bit of excitement. The teasers for the song certainly suggested something truly mystic. As a musical composition it’s really precise: entering into the dream state, then being pulled back into one reality. Lyrically the song makes use of the metaphor of the moon’s orbit, two beings circling each other as if never truly finding the ability to come together and finally accept their attraction as more than just coincidence. The back and forth between Dean and Yerin is playful, very overtly flirtatious. In the same breath Dean expresses confusion as to why he even has this undeniable attraction (“What is it? What is it about you? You’re not that pretty”), he asks almost frantically, “Don’t you want my love?” When they finally do come together, harmonizing instead of floating along as solitary satellites, they almost demand entrance into the other’s heart. As each second passes by they slowly come closer together and accept that, yes, this is their course, the realization of their destiny for one another.
Of his own admission, Dean based the theme of the micro-album on the film “Inception,” the idea of dreams within dreams, seeing and knowing that you’re in a dream and how everything from one layer of unconsciousness affects all the rest. It’s an album about a man floating above himself to see the many pitfalls and peaks of romance. Deeper than that, it’s about a man attempting to find himself in one layer of his dreams and affect the outcome of his waking reality. It’s become common knowledge that Dean is an artist who’s very methodical in his album construction. Nothing is placed where it is by accident, and everything revolves around a central narrative. From the album art itself, to the actual construction of each song, Dean was meticulous in his vision, every single aspect of the release planned to create a cohesive whole. Though only two songs, “Limbo” manages to tell a complete story and deliver a truly beautiful musical experience.