Thursday, December 7th, 2006
Baptist Student Union, Norman, OK
I see a lot of coffeeshop singers. Usually they don’t impress me, just like seeing an emo band up at the Pinkeye doesn’t usually impress me. It’s just something I expect to see when I frequent the location.
But Cody Dunbar surprised me in a huge way. The first problem that Dunbar avoided was the sloppy rhythm that most coffeeshop singers employ. Do they think it makes them sound more artsy? I’m not really sure. Dunbar’s playing was so intensely rhythmic that I felt like bobbing and dancing to the beat – and there wasn’t anything but an acoustic guitar playing. On top of that, Dunbar can strum like an animal – he can move his hand in time quicker than anyone I have ever seen. I’ve heard of triple-strumming, but Dunbar is the only person I’ve ever known who makes that type of thing look routine. At one point during his set, he threw in an extremely complex rhythmic idea and set it off with a quick succession of harmonics – something you shouldn’t be able to do. I was blown away. His complex playing is only compounded by the fact that, akin to Ryan Lindsey, he layers and loops himself to make astounding songs out of the simplest ideas.
That’s simply his instrumental abilities. His voice is equally as talented – a strong, assured voice that isn’t high and whiny or low and gravelly. It’s a voice that sounds like it belongs to someone you’d like to know – a comfortable voice that doesn’t take much getting used to. It’s extremely comforting to listen to Dunbar play – you can get completely lost in the songs due to the amount of talent and hard work that went into creating them.
He keeps a band with him as well, and while they are talented (especially the bassist), Dunbar’s best work comes when he is playing alone, making heavily reverbed versions of Christmas carols, distorting his acoustic guitar, or blowing audiences away with his wild melodies and rhythms.
Dunbar is one of the most invigorating and exciting acoustic artists I’ve ever met. Cody Dunbar is definitely a name to watch for in the coming months and years, especially if you’re a fan of acoustic pop.