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The Progspace Awards 2022

Merethe Soltvedt & Moe Espinosa – Life Is a Dream

Merethe Soltvedt & Moe Espinosa – Life Is a Dream

Merethe Solvedt & Moe Espinosa - Life is a Dream

As a long-time Persefone fan, I must say I was quite excited to hear this EP, knowing that none other than Miguel “Moe” Espinosa (keyboards and vocals for Persefone) would carry a big chunk of the songwriting that can be heard here. And while I can easily say this doesn’t have much in common with his main band in terms of music style and composition, his capability as a player and songwriter can do justice to cinematic otherworldly music just as well as he can tackle progressive death metal. “Life is a Dream” is a collaboration between Moe and singer Merethe Solvedt (Two Steps From Hell) who have collaborated before on Persefone’s latest albums. And despite the full release being only 17 minutes in length (shorter than a few Persefone songs), it is a well put together work of art that can easily sink you into its atmosphere and make all your worries drain away.

When looking at genres this could fit in the symphonic or cinematic category as well as soundtrack, pop and progressive rock. There are even subtle electronic tendencies flowing into the mix, but one listen is enough to know that boxing it into a genre wouldn’t do this release any justice. In fact, it would take away from its artistry. The reason for that is that the free-spirited nature of the music isn’t exactly compatible with any fixed borders. And they didn’t achieve this effect by being rebellious in any way, quite the contrary. The music is so peaceful and seamlessly moving between styles that it seems to naturally escape categories as if they were never even there to begin with. Despite that, It’s not incoherent or messy. The intention here is very clear.

Merethe Solvedt and Moe Espinosa – Life is a Dream ( Click here if the video does not play )

If I had to choose one word to describe this EP, I would choose ‘peaceful’. The atmosphere created by Moe’s piano playing along with the lush, somewhat adventurous yet overall tender and delicate orchestral layer constitutes most of the music’s essence. Percussions are also present, enough to give it a clear rhythmic sense and make the music easy to follow. But they never take front seat. We see a nice mixture of subtle electronic percussion, orchestral percussion and even a proper rock/metal drum-kit. More on that last one later. The overall feel I get from this music, mainly driven by the symphonic elements, is light and relieving. It feels like a soft breeze. Wind instruments, percussion and string sections come together seamlessly and allow themselves to flow from more dynamic moments to slower, tender bits. The songs seem to come in waves, starting soft and building gradually, sometimes adding a little tension in the process, before opening up into catchy, heartwarming melodies and themes.

Merethe’s vocals do a great job at topping off this atmosphere and giving it character. She has a very gentle, delicate voice, mostly pop-influenced but authentic enough to stand out as a recognizable singer and to put some beautiful emotions on full display. The first song feels more narrated and philosophical while the other three feel a lot more personal, allowing for the emotion in the vocal performance to also get more heartfelt. ‘For Just One Day’ especially gets so light-hearted, even silly to some extent, showing a very innocent and child-like mood along with some music box vibes coming from the keyboards.

Merethe Solvedt & Moe Espinosa – Stronger Together ( Click here if the video does not play )

Lyrically, some songs mainly describe a feeling or perspective (‘Life is a Dream’ and ‘Stronger Together’) while others actually tell a story (‘I Am Enough’). This last track actually seems to give some brief insight into psychological realms of development as, into how early childhood experiences are carried out into adulthood, and eventually need to be let go of. It’s a trope I’ve encountered a lot in the past years, that it’s almost become a cliché for me, but I still love how it is expressed in this song, how the depiction of the negative experience is carried out in a melancholic tone, and then the music brightens up once the lyrics detach from this memory and start something new. I love how freeing it sounds, and especially how there’s no fight to be fought in order to achieve that, but just a will to let go.

Now, as a metalhead, this style of music wouldn’t exactly be my cup of tea, though I’ve come to realize that despite my specific preferences, I can enjoy pretty much anything if it’s done right and the artist’s intention comes across, which is very much the case here. But I do like that some heavier elements were introduced as well, in the song ‘Stronger Together’, where Moe’s bandmates from Persefone, Carlos Lozano and Sergi Verdeguer, bring a progressive rock foundation to create a more energetic song that breaks the pattern from the other three, although it keeps the lighthearted vibe intact. We get some guitar and bass riffs and a drum groove that isn’t only beautifully head-boppable (it’s a word) but even progressive.

To wrap up this review, I’ll just add how I love that the peace in this music isn’t expressed through absence of anything negative. In fact, the lyrics often spotlight the darker aspects of life. Rather, the peace is achieved by detaching from them, leaving them behind and allowing yourself to go your own way, which I guess is also what Moe did with this project when he decided to write something so unlike what he’s known for. Life really is a dream when you’re listening to his music, and I can’t encourage you enough to throw an ear at this EP.

Track List:

  1. Life is a Dream (04:05)
  2. Stronger Together (05:42)
  3. For Just One Day (03:46)
  4. I Am Enough (04:08)

About the Author

Andrei Dan

Born and raised in Romania, currently living and studying in the Netherlands, Andrei was introduced to both classic and modern prog at once when he discovered Symphony X and Intervals in 2015. He has quickly grown fond of all the sub-categories of metal but keeps a focus on progressive or innovative music. Most of his free time is spent keeping track of new artists or releases and visiting concerts.

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