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Track Review: Dean Wareham vs. Cheval Sombre ‘If I Could Only Fly’

Western dream pop from indie vets Wareham and Sombre.

Lizzie Goodfriend

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Dean Wareham and Cheval Sombre team up on this cover of Blaze Foley’s “If I Could Only Fly” to create a track that has been self-described as “western dream pop.”

And western dream pop it is.

With a vocal cadence like Johnny Cash and guitar reminiscent of Bob Dylan, Wareham and Sombre put modern twist on classic western songs from the ’60s and ’70s.

Wareham is a long-serving indie artist who founded the bands Galaxie 500 and Luna. Sombre is a solo artist that rose to prominence in the early 2000s. The pair have teamed up to record this record of true Western songs, backed by Britta Phillips of Luna, the War on Drugs’ Anthony LaMarca and Will Halsey, known for his work with Sugarcandy Mountain.

The heavy percussion and folky guitar riffs in combination with Sombre’s vocals makes it seem as if he’s telling you a secret, while you lay gazing up at the night sky. His soft-spoken timbre almost feels as if it’s being overpowered by the backing music which, in turn, fits hand-in-hand with the dream-like essence of the track.

Wareham and Sombre’s use of a track that is heavy on percussion — almost as if the guitar is the backing instrument rather than the normal drum beats — adds to that feeling of stargazing and letting your mind wander and body relax. The addition of a tambourine emphasizes the “western” aspect of the western dream pop genre, as it throws the listener back to a time when people sat around campfires playing their instruments and joining in a sing-along.

While Foley’s original is carried by a single acoustic guitar, Wareham and Sombre bring the “dream pop” idea into the mix with their use of what seems to be an electric guitar, an acoustic guitar and an occasional cymbal.

This easy listening track is a mesmerizing melding of 60s/70s western and contemporary pop to create what can only be described as a form of modern-day cosmic crooning.

“If I Could Only Fly” can be found on Dean Wareham vs. Cheval Sombre, out now.

Editor’s note: This review has been updated to include accurate information on the track’s vocals. 

If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.

Lizzie Goodfriend is a graduate from Texas A&M University and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication with a minor in English. She has also recently completed a course to receive a Social Media Professional Certificate. While at A&M, Lizzie wrote for her campus radio station's blog. She is currently living in Dallas, Texas and is hoping to move out to Los Angeles in the next few months.

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