Pieces of a Dream,
No Assembly Required
(Heads Up, 2004)

No Assembly Required is smooth music put together by Pieces of a Dream. The group is at its best when the musicians sing, adding a vocal drive that is lacking in the instrumental pieces. The only flaw in the music is a certain aridness to the sound.

The musicians are Eddie Baccus Jr. (sax), Jeff Robinson (sax), James Lloyd (keyboards), Tracy Hamlin (vocals), Joe McBride (background vocals), Lamar Gaines (keyboards), David Dyson (bass), Todd Parsnow (guitar), Jason Davis (sax), Curtis Harmon (drums and keyboards), Bennie Sims (keyboards) and Joe Vincelli (sax).

The instrumental "It's Go Time" is very smooth and repetitive. This is contrasted by "Devotion," which is at its best when a group sings backing a soloist. There is a touch of funk in "Dyse it Up" and it leaves me wanting the edge that just is not there.

There might be the faint echoes of jazz in both "Yeah Baby" and "Swerve," but it remains just a taste in the melodies that the group weaves. The horns bring some life to the music in "Who U Wit?" The keyboard provides a beautiful melody in "On Her Wings," but unfortunately it fades behind the other instruments much of the time. The music carries the imagery in "Summer," but the images are less than they could be.

Everything comes together in "Want a Piece of This?" and it is a grand piece of funk. "No Assembly Required" starts off a bit flat, but the energy builds throughout the song. And they finish on a wonderful high, as "Lunar Lullaby" forms an ethereal goodnight.

The members of Pieces of a Dream are all talented musicians, and No Assembly Required should be better than it is. The skill is there, but for the most part I can't find the passion, and that lack leaves me cold.

- Rambles
written by Paul de Bruijn
published 22 January 2005

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