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:

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Music Review: Here and Now by Taxi Doll

Hey there…

Every so often I find some new artist (or artist new to me) who happens to infect me with a guitar-synth-pop (though they call it “rocktronica”) groove. Taxi Doll not only did that but has embedded itself deep in my psyche with their album Here and Now. I just can’t get “Strange Rush” out of my mind…

As someone who grew up in an age of Depeche Mode, Erasure, and Cause & Effect, I have a soft spot for synth-pop, whether it’s dark and moody like ‘Peche, cheerful and upbeat like Erasure, or a mixture of the two like Cause & Effect. Now I have to add a fourth group to that list – Taxi Doll. And unlike the other three, Taxi Doll is fronted by a female — like Blondie, No Doubt, and Garbage. They have bridged that gap and somehow created something new, fun, and funky.

From the opening strains of “Come to Me” with its infectious dance beat to the syncronous smooth of “Strange Rush”, Taxi Doll runs the gamut. For a new group, I found the tracks extremely well engineered. All too often new groups fall into the trap of what I call “playing with the knobs and buttons” in the studio. Taxi Doll sounds like they worked out any kinks with their sound long before the album was recorded, tinkering to get things just right for their fans and the world to fall in love with.

It’s obvious as you listen to the album that they produced it so that it ebbs and flows between dance-heavy tunes and slower tunes, and back again. I respect any band that can do that on an album (I think that the art of assembling an album is rapidly disappearing in an age where people can download individual tracks on a whim). And to find a relatively new band that has that kind of maturity is amazing.

So if this Los Angeles-based band has been creating their own brand of music since 2004 and why haven’t I heard of them before?

Back in 2004, Dhana (vocals) and Gregg “G-Dub” Allen (production/keyboards) met through a mutual friend, Joy (artist/producer of D:fuse & Perfecto). Dhana then met Jason Graham (drums) when he toured with the Supreme Beings of Leisure. And then Matt Emmer (guitar) and Brian Hendrix (bass) had met previously but were recruited separately. Kismet? Fate? Whatever it was, it started a fusion of styles and music to create Taxi Doll’s unique sound.

As they gained momentum, they gained notice of fans and labels alike. Universal got on board as their single “Waiting” climbed to #3 on billboard’s Hot Dance Airplay Charts and #1 in Music Week (Europe). Their new single “Be With You” reached the top 10 on the Billboard Dance Club chart and was #5 on the UK pop charts. Obviously the world was taken with Dhana’s sweet vocals merged with guitar grooves.

Television and movie music moguls aren’t deaf to their sound either. You may have heard some of their music on television in such shows as The Hills, Laguna Beach, and Veronica Mars or in movies like John Tucker Must Die and Firewall. I expect that since their album Here and Now‘s release in February that dance clubs across the world are going to be hearing much more of Taxi Doll in the future.

If you like bands like Goldfrapp, Depeche Mode, Republica, and Garbage, you should definitely give Taxi Doll a listen. While you do that, I’m going to go back to listening to “Strange Rush” again…

–Fitz

p.s. They seem to be out of stock at Amazon at the moment, but be sure to check them out here.

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