Now, I don’t mean to box local crooner Sequoyah Murray or their tender-hearted sophomore album Dream Sequence, into a broader trend. But I do hope folks will see that the conversations alluded to here—on fostering trust between (and outside of) genders, encouraging cathartic tears, and accepting love—play into larger dialogues that absolutely need to happen now. And Murray, who refuses to fit in any simple labels regarding his genre or identity, could be the perfect emissary to spread those discussions further out.
Like his debut True Fun, Dream Sequence floats across several psychic territories, with Murray’s voluminous voice always leading the way into the limelight. Unlike True Fun, however, Vince Clark-esque synthpop seems to dominate the landscape; of course, as we’ve already seen from chipper “Betta” and the aptly-titled “Sublime,” Murray slots in with ease here. But Sequoyah distinguishes himself from the Depeche Mode wannabes with his vibrant array of percussion, like on the lush but intimate cascade of “Hip Entrancin’ Thing.” As with the best of post-punk’s earliest days, he invites us to enclosed worlds of rhythm that enable clear thought as much as movement. Likewise, the ambling pledge to loyalty “Is Enough” evokes the wild-eyed wonder of William Onyeabor, while the bubbling, violin-laced “Let’s Take the Time” suggests a denser cut from Arthur Russell.
Of course, that diversity of sound is only the stained glass surface of what makes Dream Sequence shine. Those vibrant colors reflect Sequoyah’s earnest pleas for harmony and honesty, in both our inner selves and our relations with others—like the majestic “I Wonder,” where Sequoyah and Saharah Jimenez interrogate each other about insecurity, and how to balance that with pride: “I wanna fall, I wanna fly / I wanna dance, I wanna cry.” And right after, he answers himself with “Meltdown,” a Lenny Kravitz-ish barn-burner slathered with Nathaniel Kiser’s blissed-out guitar, where Sequoyah declares his right to wail. By tearing down the walls that often inhibit true expression—especially those that other cis males often throw up—Dream Sequence aims to create a safe space for dialogue outside of gender stereotypes.
And see, as I said before, these are conversations that absolutely should resonate outwards and upwards, ensconced as they are in Sequoyah’s radiant vessels. I’ve discussed “Sublime” elsewhere, and those velvet halls still mesmerize at once with both their generosity toward trust and the plushness of the actual pulse. But softer moments like “Before You Begin” can melt hearts in gentler waves, a light embrace embedded in the quietly cavorting piano and catchy refrains. So whenever Sequoyah asks for complete candor at the start of any relationship, he’s not demanding or coercing anyone.
I can and want to go on, but Sequoyah can vouch for himself. From “Sunflower (I Love You More)” and its bouquet of well-wishes to someone that lacks affection, to the hot-air balloon of “Betta” that uplifts artists who have to separate from the world to create, Dream Sequence promotes love and acceptance at the closest level, from one flawed person to the next. And while Sequoyah doesn’t directly address the current breach between sexes, his work seeks to lay out ungendered blueprints for how we can avoid that conflict with consent, two people at a time, with their arms extended and eyes interlocked.