When asked in 2010 to describe his taste in music, filmmaker David Lynch told the Globe he likes what he calls “modern blues.” That ended up being the direction for his first solo album, which Lynch released to everyone’s surprise, including his own, the following year. Whereas “Crazy Clown Time,” his debut, was a fractured mix of styles — hearing Lynch sing a thumping dance track called “Good Day Today” was as jarring as any subplot in “Mulholland Drive” — his new sophomore album carefully builds a cohesive mood that carries throughout. “The Big Dream” is indeed modern blues as filtered through Lynch’s warped mind, where life unfolds in the shadows in slow motion.
It’s a vastly superior record, drawing you in with its electronic, murky ambience and the impression that these songs are coming to you from a singer submerged in water.
There are spectral fever dreams (“The Line It Curves,” evoking the gauzy beauty of Cocteau Twins), stomping blues-rockers reminiscent of Tom Waits (“Star Dream Girl”), and even a portentous Bob Dylan cover (“The Ballad of Hollis Brown”). The title track crawls out of the speakers, a parched dirge you could imagine turning up as a prom song in one of Lynch’s films.
Lynch’s voice, thin and reedy but also elastic enough to convey the elusiveness of his lyrics, is hypnotic and more upfront this time around. In that same Globe interview, Lynch admitted he doesn’t like to sing: “What I like is to try to sing and get the feel, and then there are so many ways to manipulate the voice and tweak it.” (Out Tuesday)
ESSENTIAL “The Big Dream”James Reed can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.