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Dawn Landes - Fireproof
Review by Tony BonyataOn Dawn Landes' second album. Fireproof, the NYC - by way of Louisville, KY - multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter has produced a record that seems to come from the honest-tilled soil of America's heartland, yet many of these songs also shine with the 'bright lights, big city' vibrancy of her newly adopted hometown.
No stranger to the music scene, Dawn has spent time in the studio with greats such as Phillip Glass, Ryan Adams, Joseph Arthur and the indie-folk band Hem (the latter which she toured with as their glockenspiel player and background vocalist after an extensive European tour supporting Suzanne Vega).
It was the studio that was to become her musical playground where she learned to play a multitude of various instruments. While the overall tone and vibe of her new album is atmospheric with a cool sense of detachment, she gets to 'play in the sand,' so to speak, as she personally weaves in banjos, toy pianos, bells, organs, guitars, optigans and what seems like just about everything but the kitchen sink. And by incorporating so many different musical textures into these well-crafted songs the end result is a rewarding one. Synths bubble from underneath the strong number "Kids In A Play," as Landes' vocal delivery commands not unlike a young Sinead O'Connor, while she also delivers some absolutely heavenly frail folk sonnets, such as the banjo-kissed "Tired of This Life," "Twilight" and the lovely "Dig Me A Hole," where, amidst angelic harmonies and a ghostly melody, she proves her salt as a songwriter. And as an additional treat she's included the bonus track of Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down" that strips back the rocking edge to revel the inner beauty of the song itself.
Landes picks up the tempo a bit on not only the traditional folk number "I Don't Need No Man," which finds her running through some of her vocal stanzas in a stream-of-conscience rap-like delivery, but also the quirky, vaudeville-on-valium "Picture Show," which eventually rips into a stomping electric jam.
More than anything, though, these songs prove that Dawn Landes is an intriguing, enigmatic artist that takes some of the best elements of American folk music and twists it all around into something refreshingly new and beguiling.
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