Feeling depressed? Man up, and get over it... at least, that’s what you’re supposed to do, right?
Most men are discouraged from expressing their emotions (unless it’s anger, of course). This toxic masculinity is riddled throughout American culture and often leads to devastating circumstances. The arts can be adept at exposing and dealing with this type of social problem, and perhaps we don’t hear its specific message enough. The Cure’s “Boys Don’t Cry” is the first and only piece that comes to mind, but it looks like we can leave it to the next generation of writers to tackle this misguided ideal head-on in the 21st century.
Dylan Dunlap directly faces mental health and reflection in his latest single, “What We Had.” This track uses genuine storytelling and uplifting music to give like-minded listeners a forward-thinking attitude. It’s a daily dose of pop therapy. Like his contemporaries, The Script or Coldplay, Dunlap marries heavy themes with uplifting soft-rock sounds. The literal lyrics of his new tune paint a personal picture, but they’re written in such a way that allows listeners to hear their own story too. In fact, the manner in which the narrative is told makes the message more powerful and shows conviction.
The production makes the song big: full of rich reverb and fluid percussion—it’s such a smooth listen. The sounds of the acoustic guitar are captured beautifully (which is no easy feat). The melodic and harmonic choices of Dunlap’s arrangement contribute strongly to the track’s charm. For example, the backing vocal part before the last chorus is brilliant, and the incorporation of an eleventh while the guitar and piano play together over the tonic during the pre-chorus adds a beautiful dissonance.
In the song’s conclusion, Dunlap finds acceptance. He sees his hardships as the bricks in the wall that made him, saying, “I don’t ever want to change a thing that made me stand on my own two feet.” Essentially he says: Your story is who you are—make the most of it.
Angeleno singer/songwriter Dylan Dunlap has supported acts like Howie Day and OneRepublic around the world. Now, he’s claiming his right to headline stadium shows of his own with the second single from his upcoming EP, Soldier On. The accompanying music video for “What We Had” will be directed by Tim Toda and will serve as a visual expansion to Dunlap’s honest, forthright storytelling.
Some life lessons are learned the hard way, but perspective is key. Dylan Dunlap is unafraid to open up with his listeners about personal struggles. He shares how turning a negative experience into a positive one is both liberating and empowering. He shares music that can move the soul.
Written by Matt Kalicky