Cameron Avery’s solo debut is such a drastic departure from his previous work as bassist for Tame Impala and Pond that it almost seems like a waste of time to even draw the connection. So far removed from the fuzzy psych rock of both bands is Ripe Dreams, Pipe Dreams that doesn’t even register in the ears of the listener as being the product of, let alone even tangentially related to, anyone associated with either group. While still casting an eye towards an earlier time, Avery skips the late-‘60s fetishizing of his day gigs for a full immersion into mid-20th century pop in the mold of crooners like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, et al. It’s such an incongruous stylistic shift that those enamored of Avery’s other pursuits will likely find themselves faced with a difficult pill to swallow with Ripe Dreams, Pipe Dreams.

For everyone else, however, Ripe Dreams, Pipe Dreams announces Avery as an interesting talent to keep an eye on, not only from a purely stylistic standpoint, but also as a performer. Opening track “A Time and Place” show off the delicate upper reaches of his sonorous voice, while a mere two tracks later on “Dance With Me” he is in full Lee Hazlewood (there’s even a lyrical reference to boots that “ain’t just for walkin’”) territory, his voice having dropped several octaves, settling into a whiskey-soaked baritone. This chameleonic vocal approach lends itself well to the surprising range of diversity present on Ripe Dreams, Pipe Dreams. While operating almost entirely within a balladic range of tempos, the supporting production and arrangements feature everything from cabaret-esque introspection to Spectorian Wall of Sound bombast.

Given the clear influences on display throughout, Ripe Dreams, Pipe Dreams plays like the record parents of psych-obsessed kids would be spinning while their progeny loses themselves in a haze of smoke and fuzz guitar. “Wasted on Fidelity” shows a lyrical and melodic maturity that places Avery in a class with the likes of Richard Hawley and Jarvis Cocker, his voice rising and falling along with the orchestral accompaniment. In this, Avery is pursuing a sound that could just as easily be thought of as sophisti-pop, not interested in prevailing pop trends and instead focused on crafting an album. Each song flows seamlessly into the next, yet still retains an immediately identifiable individuality that makes songs like “Big Town Girl” and “Do You Know Me by Heart?” stand out despite an overriding similarity.

This cohesive approach stylistically, sonically, lyrically and thematically serves Avery well throughout Ripe Dreams, Pipe Dreams. Where others could find themselves lost in overly emotive melancholy, Avery goes beyond mere pastiche to get to the heart of what made many a mid-20th century adult-oriented pop record stand the test of time. Unassuming and quietly confident, Ripe Dreams, Pipe Dreams shows Avery to be an artist in the truest sense of the word, just as capable of cavernous walls of fuzzy psych as mellifluous melodies for supper club set. Oh, and “Disposable” is the best Father John Misty song that isn’t.

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