Over the course of the past half a decade, Salem Wolves’ singer/guitarist Gray Bouchard just released the passionate debut solo album titled Dedication Songs. Its an album of honing in on a voice, countering our own human battles for coherent communication in a litany of dedications toward everyone that is on board for the journey (including the listener). It obliterates all obstacles of expression in an energy of uplifting joy, spanning narratives surrounding situations, significant (and seemingly insignificant) others & more characters who enter into the album’s story of frustrations, paradises lost along with paradises found.
Dedication Songs begins with the full force of “Nothing From Nothing” that outlines the cycles of dedicated anthems that the artist is about to unveil before our ears. The energy of an electric heartland is heralded on “Let It All Go”, as the anthems keep on keeping on with “You’re No Better”, in a blaze of ballads that feel aimed to break through the barricades & obstacles of life like the rocking resolve of “Chasing After Honey”. Conflicts & torn quandaries are found on “Applause”, to more down home hymns on “Small Houses”, careening into the anxious & erratic action of “Losing It”, followed by the power pop of reminiscent romanticism on “When I Was Yours”. Bouchard brings all the mammoth-sized jams on Dedication Songs that can be felt like an autonomous quest for independence on “I Don’t Want You To Find Me”, leading you to the finale of “King in Yellow” that features a duet between Gray & Nicole Coogan that closes the album’s final act with a coronation of the king in yellow & the queen in red, that contains a secret atmospheric song for the listener to discover.
Gray Bouchard penned the following exclusive reflections on the creation of Dedication Songs:
What would become Dedication Songs started as I drove back to Massachusetts in 2013, thoroughly chewed up and spit out by a several year stint in the Midwest. It was one of those moments where everything you’ve built crumbles and you are forced to reckon with who you really are in a quiet, empty room.
I stutter. When you stutter, every waking moment becomes this desperate, kick your way out of a car that is slowly filling with water need to communicate. I never stutter when I sing. Singing is how I communicate, but it’s also a really lonely way to be. You can’t really have a conversation in song, it’s one-sided. Same with a dedication; you write a book, you call in a request, you unveil a monument. It’s this lone sentinel of thought, imagination and feeling. Their recipient of a dedication doesn’t get to interact with it and its meaning isn’t always clear. But it lasts, even when the author and the recipient are long gone. So that’s why these are Dedication Songs—they’re my effort to communicate with someone, a lot of someones, from across a distance I’ll never be able to cross.
The record was painstakingly built over the course of five years in collaboration with my producers Erik Von Geldern and Don Schweihofer. The only other voice on the album besides my own is my friend and consummate siren Nicole Coogan. I’d say this album is dedicated to them, but it already belongs to them. So this album is just dedicated to you.