Back in July 2009, fresh off writing a glowing review for The Dear Hunter’s “Act III: Life and Death,” not for a second did I think more than SIX years would pass before Casey Crescenzo would return to his planned six-installment series of concept albums. But that’s exactly what happened. So much time passed, in fact, I had to reacquaint myself with the first three records again when “Avt IV: Rebirth in Reprise” came across my desk last week.
To be fair, The Dear Hunter — once a Crescenzo solo vehicle and now a full-fledged band — haven’t been sitting around twiddling their thumbs. In 2011, they released a series of “Color Spectrum” EPs, later combined into a 3-CD boxed set, in which the tunes were inspired by the colors of the electromagnetic spectrum. I know that doesn’t sound too exciting, but it’s an absolutely terrific collection of 36 tunes that I highly recommend.
The Dear Hunter released the good-but-not-quite-great “Migrant Response,” their first non-concept album, in 2013 before finally returning to the story of the titular Dear Hunter having returned home after assuming the identity of his dead brother.
“Revisiting something that was six years removed from my life, and going back to doing these records was actually a suggestion of my manager and friend Mike Marquis,” Crescenzo explains. “We got to talking about the title of the record and it really just made sense, both within this story — which is about this character returning to a familiar place as a different person — but also in terms of the music, which was returning to a familiar place as a different person for myself.”
There’s a cinematic flair on “Act IV,” with plenty of orchestral passages adding layers of musical depth to the proceedings. While being familiar with the first three installments certainly helps, the 15-track, 75-minute platter can be enjoyed as a stand-alone entity. Among the many highlights here are “The Old Haunt,” “Waves,” “A Night on the Town,” “The Squeaky Wheel,” “King of Swords (Reversed)” and “Wait.” Thankfully Crescenzo & Co. have crafted another masterpiece to make up for waiting so darn long to dive back into the world of The Dear Hunter. (Jeffrey Sisk)