‘Tuned In’ review: Trevor Dahl attempts to plug into popularity with ‘A Little Peace’

'A Little Peace' by Plug In Stereo

"A Little Peace" by Plug In Stereo

Trevor Dahl got a little piece of the boy-band action in 2012, and now with “A Little Peace,” he’s trying to take it all for himself and his one-man act, Plug in Stereo.

The Portland, Ore., singer-songwriter was just 19 when he got a co-writing credit for the 2012 One Direction song “Truly Madly Deeply” – not a single, but a bonus cut on deluxe editions of the group’s “Take Me Home” album.

Yet just being famous-adjacent, in an outer orbit of the 1D phenomenon, could be enough to help propel him on a similar path as a one-man boy-band, if there is such a thing.

He gets support from twin-sister duo Megan and Liz on “A Little Peace’s” opening track, “To Be Wanted,” which borrows from both 1D and Phillip Phillips’ “Home” as it arcs into the atmosphere with an anthem of encouragement keyed to lines like, “You’re beautiful, let everybody know it’s indisputable.” Subsequently, the title track proves even more infectious, owing more to Tears For Fears philosophy than modern clichés as Dahl navigates through the jangle-and-stomp arrangement to deliver a message of letting go.

That kinetic journey proves to be the climax of the release, as the mop-haired singer sinks into the murk of formula and blatant pandering. For instance, it’s hard to hear any sincerity in “Wait for Me,” an acoustic ditty thickened with electricity, where our hero vows to find his true love somewhere: “You could be in Portland, and you could be in Newport Beach” … leaving the door open for star-struck hopefuls to fill in the blanks with their own cities.

Elsewhere, the folkie cut “Everything I Shouldn’t Say” is endearing enough, and even though “Home Soon” drones a bit, Dahl deftly handles a melancholy turn. Plus he signs off with a breathy play at romance, “Don’t Say Goodnight,” cranking up the intensity for another anthem and lines like, “You and I are living this dream tonight.”

The 12-year-olds might believe it.

Rating: 3 stars (out of five)

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