Produced by GRAMMY Award-winner Shooter Jennings, (Brandi Carlile, Tanya Tucker, American Aquarium) and mixed by Trina Shoemaker, (Brandi Carlile, Queens Of The Stone Age, Sheryl Crow,) Floating On A Dream is rendered in long shadows and moody high relief reflecting Kaplan’s Californian roots and fascination with the American West, broadening his artistry into enthralling new territory.
With country, blues, soul, tribal drums, and a touch of gospel underpinning his elemental acoustic driven rock, he explores matters of the heart, truth, morality, and the search for relevance across the album’s 11 original tracks. At the core though there is that voice. From a haunting falsetto to its deepest bass tones, Kaplan’s instrument is unlike anything else in modern music. While a few of these songs were penned shortly after Kaplan’s departure from Pentatonix in 2017; most were written specifically for this project. What ties them together is the richness and fluidity of his vocal range, which may even surprise longtime fans.
Speaking on the album’s lead track, “First Place I Go,” (shared late last year) Kaplan stated, “Even though it has some dark undertones and some struggle, I wanted that first song to have strength. I wanted it to have fire,” he says. “I wanted to let people know that something is coming, and it’s not just going to be my lower register, and it’s not just going to be soft vocals, and it’s not just going to be sweet, singer-songwriter-y stuff. It’s going to be more than that, more than what I had done before.”
Deepening a musical evolution that began with 2020’s, I’ll Get By EP and carried through last year’s single, “Song for the Thankful,” Floating On A Dream explores Kaplan’s wide sonic palette and rootsy influences. Throughout the LP’s soaring choruses and deep valley passages, Jennings’ steadfast musical foundation helps keep Kaplan’s amazing voice, which has drawn comparisons from classic country crooner Lee Hazelwood to folk legend Richie Havens, firmly in place. Jennings’ influence can be heard in Floating On A Dream’s cinematic production using piano, pedal steel, varied guitars, and layered harmonies, contributing to the album’s spacious western scope.
Jennings stated, “I always know it’s going to be a good process in the studio when I’m working with somebody who really loves music, but also really adores the music that has come before. We both collect music and we’re inspired by it. Avi is an amazing singer and songwriter, this album is Ennio Morricone meets Bill Withers.”
Many of the new tracks draw on Kaplan’s heartache following the separation he endured from his family due to excessive touring, and then continued through much of the pandemic.
“I spend a lot of time touring away from my family and I find myself missing them a lot,” he says. “The album’s “On My Way” is a letter to each person in my family. I have a brother, a sister, and a mother and father, and I wrote a specific verse for each one of them. It’s not always the songs dearest to your heart that the world gets to hear, but when that does happen, it’s a beautiful thing.
“My journey has taken many twists and turns. It’s been a battle at times, but the completion of this album is a huge step towards the things I hope to achieve as an artist. I’ve been waiting a long time for this chance to give people my music, and to give people myself through my music,” he added. “It’s time to make that dream that I’m floating on, a reality.”
Floating On A Dream – track list:
Avi Kaplan – vocals, guitar
Aubrey Richmond – violin
Chris Masterson – guitars
Daniel Ellsworth – piano, organ, synthesizer
Jamie Douglass – drums, percussion
John Schreffler, Jr. – pedal steel
Joy Williams – vocals on “All Is Well”
Kaleb Jones – guitar
Smith Curry – pedal steel
Ted Russell Kamp – bass