While serving in the US Navy as an air traffic controller, Boston-based singer/songwriter Dave Munro sent home demos of his songs. This eventually lead to his current musical project, the aptly named Air Traffic Controller. Over the course of the next decade, Munro wrote and recorded four critically applauded albums of heartfelt and earnest indie folk/indie pop with a backing band that features Adam Salameh (drums), Joe Campbell (bass), Bobby Borenstein (guitar), Emo McSwain (vocals, keytar) and multi-instrumentalist Steve Scott.
The Boston-based indie outfit’s fifth and latest album, the Dan Cardinal, Seth Kasper and Air Traffic co-produced Dash was released last Friday. Partially written in-person and remotely during pandemic-related lockdowns, Dash was recorded at Dimension Sound Studios and sees the band setting aside long-held formulas to allow each member to bring their own style and personality to the material — while retaining the story-based songwriting and catchy hooks that have won the band acclaim and fans.
The album’s lead single, “20” is a breezy pop anthem, rooted in Munro’s unerring knack for catchy hooks and lived-in story-based lyricism paired with a lush arrangement featuring reverb-drenched guitar, funky horns and a dance floor friendly groove. The song is rooted in a familiar nostalgia: the optimism and dreams of one’s youth — but seen from the perspective of someone a bit older, who has been forced to be pragmatic and make the sort of uncomfortable compromises that the song’s narrator would have loathed as a younger man. It’s a bittersweet sigh rooted in the recognition that life doesn’t always wind up how you”d like or hoped.
Directed filmed and edited by 9th Planet Productions with additional edits and effects by Joe Joyce, the accompanying video for “20” is a visual delight that recalls Broadway and major films — on a small budget: We follow a disco ball mask wearing character waking up and writing in a journal and playing a guitar while a wild and surreal array of things happen around him, including musicians playing on his bed, an entire party rocking out and so on.