Dean Wareham

Emancipated Hearts (Sonic Cathedral)

Rating: NNN

Dean Wareham’s debut full-length as a solo artist doesn’t stray hugely from any of his influential downbeat pop projects – Galaxie 500, Luna, Dean & Britta – nor is it quite as interesting. Galaxie 500 stood out for its psychedelic slowness, Luna for its dreaminess before “dream pop” was a genre, Dean & Britta (Wareham with his wife and former Luna bandmate, Britta Phillips) for its romantic frisson.

Emancipated Hearts’ chilled-out songs are strong, though, built on solid, simple melodies and weary, disillusioned lyrics. (“What have I done with my life?” 50-year-old Wareham asks on Love Is Not A Roof Against The Rain.) And he has a fine partner in producer Jim James (My Morning Jacket), who gorgeously fleshes out each tune with soft texture and shimmering instrumentation.

The gently cascading guitar lines in Heartless People give particular pleasure, as does the glock in My Eyes Are Blue. Slithery, energized, Mercury Rev-evoking Holding Pattern makes the biggest impression.

Top track: Holding Pattern

Dean Wareham plays the Horseshoe on Wednesday (April 9).

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