Music Review: Dhana – Confessions of Lily Rogue EP

Hi all…

More than a year ago, I reviewed Taxi Doll‘s album Here and Now and loved it. I’ve always had a soft spot for electro-synth-pop and Taxi Doll scratched that itch beautifully. Now lead singer Dhana Taprogge has released a new EP of solo material called Confessions of Lily Rogue. Deeper than Here and Now, Confessions offers a slower, more reflective approach to the music and lyrics.

In this slower, solo context, Dhana’s voice provides a textured, emotive counterpoint to the contagious dance beats of her work with Taxi Doll. Don’t let that statement fool you into thinking there’s no bite here. These songs deal with the fact that relationships aren’t always wine and roses…

Love is funny. Sometimes one person loves another and that causes tension. But what happens when someone you think of as just a friend finds another lover and you find there’s a spark of jealousy there? “Not Enough” focuses on this odd kind of love affair that happens every day. “You had a thing for me, but you faltered…” and “Today, you broke a piece of me, you had to leave me for another…” Smoothly orchestrated with strings, keyboards, and a heartbeat drum beat throughout, it’s Dhana’s voice that connects the threads without being trite or overly dramatic.

The video for “Not Enough” has a trippy, kaleidoscope feel:

“Wanted” moves on with more keyboards and strings, again keeping it slow as Dhana sings of love and loss. “What you wanted / is gone…” and the person left behind is struggling. “Little pieces of broken glass / just a memory, time has passed / tiny puzzle of tears and sorrow / what you gonna do tomorrow…” where “breathing is a painful thing…” Most people I know have had those moments where love has faded away and they’re not ready to let it go. But the chorus speaks of hope – “Probably better this way / you’ve had enough / now go and make the change…”

The next song, “Low”, has a bit faster beat as Dhana sings of someone seeking to lose themselves as a friend wonders “how low / can you go / love how low / can you go…” No matter how far you run, you can’t run away from yourself. This one has another beat and melody that reminded me more of Taxi Doll’s infectious beats.

And “Feel Right” deals with that tough spot in a relationship when you want to be with someone, “but it just don’t don’t feel right.” It’s that moment when the conflicted heart pulls and pushes and your head has to step in – “my head is straight when I’m far away” but “when I’m far away I’m still wanting you / and it just don’t feel right…” But when you’re with that person, for a while you can forget things don’t feel right – eventually though, the regrets and doubts pile up.

Also included is an acoustic version of “Not Enough,” which unwinds a bit of the electronic vibe of the track in favor of a stripped down feel. Dhana’s voice comes through loud and clear and the piano and strings don’t overwhelm her at all. That said, I think I like the version with electronics a bit better with its fuller sound.

I love Taxi Doll, but have to say I was impressed with Dhana’s solo work. The EP takes her voice in different directions focused on a darker side of life than the typically upbeat electronica of her band. I think if you like Taxi Doll, you’ll love hearing Dhana’s solo work with Confessions of Lily Rogue. Though I love the EP, I’m hoping Taxi Doll will releasing great music as an ensemble for many years to come and we hear new music from them soon!

For more about Dhana’s music, visit her website at DhanaMusic.com.

This article first appeared at BlogCritics.org here.

–Fitz

p.s. Also check out Taxi Doll’s release here:

Enhanced by Zemanta

Music Review: Sarah Sample – Someday, Someday

Hi all…

Haunting, with a genuine feel impossible to fake, Sarah Sample strummed her way into my head. Americana and folk to me are among the last places to find songs and singers that not only capture the simple nature of American life, but are still about writing and performing music and connecting to audiences, not about the business of the cookie-cutter music industry.

Sample combines the best of country and folk with an expressive voice that makes you believe every word. She reminds me a bit of Brandi Carlile, who manages simple songs that are complex at the same time. Both offer simplicity with just a few instruments playing at the same time – yet there’s a layered approach, with poetry, rhythm, melody, and harmonies that unlocks the underlying meaning for the audience.

The Salt Lake Weekly called her 2007 debut – Never Close Enough – “the standard of comparison for other female folk singer/songwriters.” She followed that in 2009 with Born to Fly, which also received critical acclaim. Her talent has been recognized since 2006 by the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Cayamo Cruise, Storyhill, SistersFolk, FolksFest, Tucscon Folk Festival, and more. And now with Someday, Someday as her third album I think she’s guaranteed to win more fans and praise from the music community.

“Everytime I Go” has to be one of the most romantic songs I’ve heard for a while about new love. “Everytime I leave / Feel like I am free-falling, real slow / my stomach in the sky, in my heart a battle cry / yes, you have won me over…” From the opening chords strummed on an acoustic guitar to the light piano and harmonies, everything evokes that feeling we all want in a new love affair – the feeling that “nothing could keep my love from you…”

The duet of “Shadows of a Song” tells the story of the other side of that coin – chasing the “shadows” of a love that may have passed. “We tried so hard / to play all the right parts / our hands full of false starts / til the downbeat dragged us apart…” Love in a band, like any relationship where you love and work together, has to be tough. But the emotional toll of connecting to music night after night has to wear it frightfully thin. Though I usually don’t like steel guitar, it works here – drawing out each drumbeat and guitar strum mimicking the daily trudging through a relationship that just doesn’t work any more.

And “One Mistake” tells more of the story of two lovers drifting apart. “I felt you / I felt you pull away / … I saw it / I saw your eyes stray / one false move / and I cut the tie / and you are floating away…” The backing vocals again bring in some gorgeously textured harmonies along with the string bass. But it’s the lightness of the arrangement to me that suggests that the singer is ready to let go until you get to the end… “cause I’m never gonna let you go.” It’s the push and pull that tests each relationship from time to time somehow boiled down into a song…

But don’t think for a second that they’re all depressing songs… “Staying Behind” takes things in a rock direction – cutting loose for a time. “I’m done trading time for nothing / I want to stand alone…” Upbeat, you can feel the change coming… With the bit of banjo and drums picking and beating us forward to a new phase of life, the vocals layer and you know it’s going to be ok.

Check out Sarah’s website and get all the latest details about her tour and albums at SarahSample.com. And definitely check out Someday, Someday if you love Americana and folk. Her career is in full swing and I can’t wait to see what else she has up her sleeve for the future.

–Fitz

Enhanced by Zemanta

Music Review: Rusty Belle – On a Full Moon Weekend

Hi again…

Music doesn’t have to be complicated. Far too often I listen to a song on the radio and wonder how much of it was engineered compared to how much was performed. When the electronics overwhelm the instruments and voices, sometimes it’s time to reexamine the music-making process.

Enter the simplicity of Rusty Belle, with a vibe that is difficult to nail down. It’s at times folksy, at times dramatic, and at times it seems they’d feel at home in a saloon somewhere in the late 1800s. But that’s part of their charm.

Comprised of brother and sister Matt (vocals, guitar, fiddle) and Kate Lorenz (vocals, washboard, glockenspiel, drums), Zak Trojano (vocals, guitars, drums), and Jazer Giles (keyboards, guitar, vocals), the group has recorded five albums as a quartet since 2006, with their latest being On a Full Moon Weekend. But again, it’s impossible to pin them down – there’s some country, some honky-tonk, dramatic folk, blues, even a bit of rock. The closest I can come to naming a similar artist is Mark Knopfler, but that only fits a handful of their songs.

What’s consistent throughout the album is the fact that the arrangements, voices, harmonies, and instrumental performances are real. Real people are singing. Real people are playing. And there are real emotions in every note of the eight songs on On a Full Moon Weekend.

One of my favorite tracks is “Rearview Mirror Sunrise” – the very first song on the CD. The subdued, mellow guitar intro strums into some simply gorgeous melodies. But once you listen to the words, you hear the story of two lovers on the road, working the memories from the drive into their relationship. Things as simple as stopping on the side of the road when it starts to snow – “catching the snow flakes one by one on our outstretched laughing tongues, the world feels fresh and new and young, I want to bring it all into my love…”

“Off and On” is another of my favorites and the one that seems to have a Knopfler feel to it. I can’t shake the mental image of this small band playing in the corner of a saloon in the wild west with their twang and caliope/merry-go-round feel. And by the time the steel guitar kicks in, I’m already sold on the picture of cowboys dancing with barmaids on the saloon floor.

When the drums and blues guitar of “Borderline Affair” enter the scene, I can’t figure out how a blues vibe and saloon band are working together, but damn – it works. “Don’t try to tell me nothing no / Don’t cheat me baby I love you so / It’s hard to see the world from this low; so come back to me as flies the crow…” The head barmaid is telling her beau not to treat her wrong or she may be tempted into someone else’s arms…

I’ve never heard anything quite like Rusty Belle. It defies categorization – and yet I enjoyed every note of On a Full Moon Weekend. If you are looking for something different, please give them a listen!

This article first appeared at BlogCritics.org here.

–Fitz

Enhanced by Zemanta
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...