Whispering a melody to us out of the cold darkness, we find Mauri Dark constructing quite beautiful – albeit intensely subtle – in the first few seconds of the song “Chains of Solitude” that in some ways defines the heart of the brand new LP Dreams of a Middle-Aged Man perfectly. Much as the case is with other tracks here, “Chains of Solitude” is a tune that steps out of the silence reticently only to bask in the glow of its own statements once they’re allowed to be made. It’s a look inside Mauri Dark that no interview or exposé could ever match, but only one-tenth of the content that comprises Dreams of a Middle-Aged Man.
Mauri is never afraid to be raw with us in songs like “Hymn for a Wanderer,” the title track and “Love Will Prevail,” and I think it’s noteworthy that in each of these instances he finds a means of being personal without being self-indulgent with his words. There’s nothing stopping him from being as understatedly carnal as he sees fit in these compositions, and in the best of scenarios he typically gives up unrelenting commentary that could apply to both listener and artist without the emotion getting lost in translation.
There are no specific instrumental virtuosities in “Worst Enemy,” “Poison Woman,” “Up to Us” or the robust “Thin Line of Understanding,” and yet these tracks still sound really sophisticated in comparison to what a lot of the mainstream material I’ve personally reviewed has looked and felt like in 2020. Though his background is in heavy metal, Mauri doesn’t want to be too cinematic with the songwriting style he’s using here – after all, in order to really get a piece of his heart in this record, you have to look at the full picture and not just the ornamental frills a harder act would shift focus towards.
I’d really love to hear “X-Renegade” and “Shades of Gray” live sometime, and while I can’t be sure when the opportunity to do so is going to come around at this moment in time, I think there’s enough of a vibe to Dreams of a Middle-Aged Man to entice music buffs to a concert when the event finally arrives. There’s already so much intimacy to the performance of all ten of the tracks in this LP that it isn’t hard to imagine Mauri Dark being all the more intriguing on stage (which is nothing to scoff at, judging from this album).
Fans both old and new alike need to check out the new side of Mauri Kosonen in Mauri Dark’s Dreams of a Middle-Aged Man this winter, and I don’t believe I’m going to be the lone critic to tell you as much in the next few months. 2020 taught us that you don’t need access to fanciful studios or major label budgets to make some of the most inspired music we’ve heard in a generation, and to this end I believe this artist couldn’t have chosen a better time to debut this wonderful collection of songs.