Clash (magazine) - "Its near-relentless enthusiasm is wide-eyed and often wonderful....Charging in with `Better Of Me', with thumping drums, a riff that triggers memories of approximately a dozen classic songs and the audacity to deploy a piano fill before the lyrics even kick in, things get off to a bold start."
Audio Mixer: Graham Marsh .
Recording information: Parhelion Studios, Atlanta, GA.
Daydream is the vintage convertible-friendly full-length debut of Empty Houses, a wryly named Detroit trio consisting of singer Ali Shea and multi-instrumentalists Dave Mackinder and Adam Mercer, both of pop-punk band Fireworks. The punk, however, is left far behind as the guys instead follow the lead of Shea's classic, Ronnie Spector-esque vocal quality and infuse their soulful indie pop with the unmistakable sounds of Motown and Phil Spector. The effervescent "Better of Me" opens the album and establishes Shea as more than a mere tribute-band leader. Featuring a piano- and occasionally brass-reinforced rhythm section, its bright tempo, handclaps, and judicially applied electric guitar keep the groove grooving right through to the title track. Similarly melodic and infectious, "Daydream" has more regretful lyrics buoyed by an energetic wistfulness that marks many of the girl-group classics of the '60s. While the album is defined by its retro flavor, it takes excursions into more contemporary if still somewhat timeless R&B, such as the ballads "Mercy" and "Every Word." A like-minded highlight is the melodically dramatic "Hold Your Hand," which could fit pretty seamlessly alongside artists like Adele and Alicia Keys on mainstream radio. The album was co-produced by the band and Grammy winner Graham Marsh, who's engineered for the likes of Bruno Mars and Cee Lo Green, and they draw focus to the group's star vocalist without skimping on rhythm and atmosphere. That atmosphere is light reverb, heartache, summer vacation, nostalgia, and Woodward Avenue in Detroit. ~ Marcy Donelson