‘Love in Legal Mediums’: A coming-of-age love story




I wake up in the middle of a dream that I desperately want to remember. It’s 10:03 a.m. The pitter-patter of rain on the windowsill is the first thing that greets me for the day. The fleeting moments and flashes of imagination that the dream presented are fresh, but soon begin to dissipate from my mind. The process reminds me that they are never coming back.

The quiet vibe of a melancholy morning evades the air. I normally welcome this tinge of melancholy, but my addiction to external stimulus leads me to trying out Ben Dipper’s latest “Love in Legal Mediums” instead.

The melancholy is quickly replaced by sweet, dreamy melodies. The floating music on “Love in Legal Mediums” evokes a gravitational shift that resonates in the wake of the EP’s 10 minutes of play-time.

There’s a natural coming-of-age feel to Lawrence, Kansas, the college town where Ben Dipper crafts his music and the one where I’ve spent the night as a visitor. It sweetly spins out of the project as each song unravels. The love that Dipper has imbedded in each track emulates the soft textures of a grainy, 35mm photograph.

“Love in Legal Mediums” gives me an extended moment to breathe — tapping me into a very sensitive headspace and allowing me to feel everything. This trance of a project is the perfect millennial mood setter.

After one listen of the 10-minute odyssey, I unlock myself from my dream state and get up from the friends’ couch that has been my bed for the night. When I make my way out the door, I drive around Lawrence.

The raindrops flutter down my windshield in a mysterious maze-like pattern as I roll down Mass Street. I don’t wipe them away immediately. I let each drop sit on the windshield long enough for their patterns to start making sense. Just when their meaning becomes coherent, I hit the wiper notch once and erase the existential painting before me. As the album resets for the second time of the drive, I let the raindrops figure themselves out down my windshield to the beat of the EP’s opener, “Girl on the Porch.”

Doing various activities around Lawrence set to this music, I feel like I’m lost in a coming of age classic. You know — one of those way-too-cute films that gives you an unrealistic idea of what love means and stars a “manic pixie dream girl.” However, Dipper’s script is written for a realistic human being with the complexities of human emotion. It’s about the type of girl that could break your heart right back if you tried to step over her for character development.

In fact, this movie-of-a-project was written alongside the grace and giddiness of a true love story. Ben Dipper’s real-life dream girl, Kalie Belt of Honeyblush, co-inhabits the vocal layerings on the standout track, “The Barriers We Build With Our Clothes.” Hearing them serenade each other in sweet melody is one of the biggest pay-offs of the album.

The project is a peek into a poetic journal, documenting the cutesy moments of Ben’s love. It is a fantasy, carved in a tree with a heart wrapped around the words, “Ben + Kalie forever.” It’s less about the cooking and cleaning and self-maintenance that goes into keeping a relationship afloat and more about slipping off into a dream while embraced in your lover’s arms.

Whether you listen to the project with the one you love or you’re like me, alone on a Lawrence couch for the night, “Love in Legal Mediums” is a project to listen to and dream. Who knows? Maybe somebody is dreaming of you right back. Embrace the music and say hello.