Dawn Landes

Bluebird

Written by: LF on 30/04/2014 00:15:30

American singer-songwriter Dawn Landes, with her indie folk music often bordering on country territory, might be a bit on the edge of what we usually cover here at Rockfreaks. Nonetheless, if you are of the sort who likes some experimental folk harmonies and soothing but fragile female vocals to accompany your way on early mornings or lonely nights, her recent record is a worthy addition to your collection. This is her fifth album, but for me "Bluebird" is my first meeting with her soft, expressive voice and powerful song-building.

From the moment the acoustic guitar counts us in at the beginning of the title track "Bluebird" and continues to play the melody along with Landes, I am filled with feelings of melancholy and broken dreams, obviously well-guided by the lyrics about the lost bluebird. As the chorus modulates and Landes sings along with herself in a delicate harmony, as happens frequently across the record, this dreamy feel only intensifies. The album was produced by Landes herself in collaboration with Thomas Bartlett to an incredibly intimate result that really lets that feeling get all the way inside the marrow of your bones if you're careless enough to expose yourself to these honest, naked songs at a vulnerable time. The album flows incredibly well but never leaves this essential vibe of endless yearning that we may as well identify as having the blues.

The album is allegedly Landes' way of dealing with a divorce she went through. Despite this deeply personal subject matter, Landes succeeds in writing strong lyrics that are general enough to be very connectable. Especially haunting lines like "When I'm out on the town, I get what I need / No one waiting around for this tumbleweed at home / Got nowhere to call home / No one to call me home" from "Home" only compliments the melancholic mood that soaks through everything. The intricately sung chorus from "Try to Make a Fire Burn Again" which goes "Ooh, getting out of hand / Don't you wanna love me all over again? / Ooh, coming over me / Don't you wanna see me mistreat me? / Try to make a fire burn again", with a few hints of Sinéad O'Connor in Landes' way of singing, has printed itself in my mind as well.

The songs mentioned so far are very much in the alt-folk area of Landes' musical range, and in the other end of it we find songs like "Cry No More" as well as "Oh, Brother" which are more country-infused, the latter kicking off a trio of songs that marks my favorite part of the record. Across the three songs, the record flows especially well as they all three bring very different expressions to the table that compliment the others. "Oh, Brother" is as mentioned in the country end of Landes' range, and distinguishes itself from the previous songs with its faster and stricter tempo-driven guitar-attitude. Next, the amazingly mellow "Diamond Rivers" rises and rises harmonically and contrasts with the previous song as it has a melancholic piano as its central instrument, assisted by some plucked violins about midway through. This echo-filled, airy build-up creates a huge space for the following "Love Song" to inhabit, which makes it stand out as compared to earlier songs of a somewhat similar vibe. With its bluesy melodies it manages to fill that space, in part by adding a slight echo to the vocals all the way through which really lets Landes' laid-back vocals resonate in your brain.

No matter if she plays almost straight country or more experimental songs, Dawn Landes does it extremely well, making "Bluebird" an incredibly soothing album to listen to, and it's definitely one I'd recommend to almost anyone prone to general, melancholic moodiness.

8

Download: Try To Make A Fire Burn Again, Bluebird, Diamond Rivers, Love Song
For The Fans Of: Feist, Cat Power, Beck, Suzanne Vega
Listen: facebook.com/dawnlandes

Release date 04.03.2014
Western Vinyl


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