“Twee AF.” Could any other phrase so elegantly describe the hand-drawn cover art on Dream Wave’s Citrus City Records debut, missing home? The colored pencil sketches feature a frowning emoticon, a rose, and a quaint little house. More than 30 years after Beat Happening’s self-titled debut on K Records, the aesthetic of Calvin Johnson’s band and label remains, filtering down to a new generation of precocious musicians. That Dream Wave earnestly covers Beat Happening’s “fourteen” is wonderfully on the nose.
Kelton Young, a Nashville-based teenage singer, self-released missing home last year, and his child-like cover art sets the album’s apprehensive, nostalgic tone. At just under 20 minutes, missing home is full of emotionally open songs dealing with change and separation. On “she’s already moved on,” the album’s opener, Young pieces together memories of someone he’s left behind (“tried to memorize your face / so I don’t have to say goodbye”).
According to the little context Young provides for the album, these songs were recorded prior to his leaving Nashville for college. The album’s introspective tone seems to signal the discomfort with newness that often accompanies a new life chapter. But it’s not all homesick gloom; the instrumental “feel better” has a cheerful country twang, and in “tell her how you feel,” Young audibly sniffles before almost breaking into a laugh. Taken in full, missing home perfectly captures the unease of an unfamiliar bed, the quiet longing for old friends, and the desire for home’s simple comforts. It may be his first major life change, but Young already sounds like a world-weary songwriting pro.