Album Review: Dawn Landes – Fireproof

Last week I ended up with about four promo CDs in the mail, and this was the first of ’em.

To tell you the truth, I didn’t think much of this album upon first listen. I didn’t dislike, it just seemed like one of a plethora of female singer-songwriter-type albums. But it’s definitely grown on me, mostly due to Dawn’s voice, which recalls both Joni Mitchell and Cat Power’s Chan Marshall at times. And those just happen to be two of my most favorite female vocalists.

The album opens with “Bodyguard” and some banjo picking paired with lyrics about being robbed – not just the loss of objects, but the disarming feeling of someone being in your space and going through your things. From there it moves onto “I Don’t Need No Man,” a countrified tune about depending on family rather than a boyfriend – something I can relate to, although personally I would prefer it if she was singing about being totally independent. Something about the line “Papa’s gonna shoe my pretty little feet/Mama’s gonna glove my hands” kind of bothers me, but the song is catchy nonetheless.

My favorite songs on the album are “Twilight” and “Kids in a Play,” which show off Dawn’s vocal range really well. She has the ability to hit really high, sweet notes clearly, which is where the Joni Mitchell comparison comes from, but then she can also drop down to the lower ranges and be a bit more sultry, ala Chan Marshall. But her songs still manage to maintain a sense of innocence, mostly due to their subject matter – a lot of which concerns missing simpler times or simpler ways. A prime example of this is in the song “Dig Me a Hole,” where she sings “It’s hard to breathe in this city/It’s easier to drink,” lamenting the fact that she no longer lives in the wide-open country. If there’s any sentiment I can understand, it’s that one.

All in all, it’s a pretty solid record, with no major missteps – the only slight mistake, in my opinion, is the opening of “Picture Show.” It recalls those old ads they used to show before movies, the ones that went “Let’s all go to the lobby…” The song eventually breaks out into a bit of a garage rock stomp, but it seems to be too little too late. However, one3 bad track out of twelve ain’t bad. If you’re a fan of the aforementioned female vocalists, I’d suggest you pick up this album.