thu 25/04/2024

CD: Daughter of Swords - Dawnbreaker | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Daughter of Swords - Dawnbreaker

CD: Daughter of Swords - Dawnbreaker

Contemplative solo album from Mountain Man’s Alexandra Sauser-Monnig

At one with nature for the cover of 'Dawnbreaker': Alexandra Sauser-Monnig aka Daughter of Swords

With shifts from the crepuscular to the distinct, Dawnbreaker is the aural equivalent of a stygian day periodically lightened when banks of cloud break to allow knife-like sunlight through.

The album begins with “Fellows”, where an unadorned acoustic guitar accompanies a cracked solo voice declaring “he gave me his love and I couldn’t give mine.” The atmosphere and sound quality suggest it was rescued from a wax cylinder recording. Next, and bedded by what could be the rhythm box of a Seventies supermarket keyboard, “Gem” swings along, builds and adds instruments, developing into a rich concoction positing a union of The Roches with vintage Fleet Foxes. By track five and “Grasses” the dark mood returns – although the archaic resonance isn’t revisited – when the narrator “lays on a bed of life without a word.”

Dawnbreaker’s creator is Alexandra Sauser-Monnig, more familiar from the roots-inclined, vocal-focused American trio Mountain Man. They issued their first album in 2010 and belatedly followed it up last year. The arrival of a member’s solo album implies that at least part of the band is on a roll. On her own and in comparison with Mountain Man, Sauser-Monnig frames these ten songs sparingly.

As with Mountain Man, touchstones are not concealed. “Rising Sun” is a bluesy, clippity-cloppity shuffle. If time travel was possible, Eric Andersen or Tom Rush could have included it in their repertoire. The title track nods towards pre-jazz Joni Mitchell. “Easy’s” downbeat take on country is along the Townes Van Zandt lines, albeit shorn of the intrinsic falling-apart-at-the-seams undercurrent. The unifying factors are Sauser-Monnig’s ebb-and-flow melodies, the transparency of her voice and the immediacy of delivery. Dawnbreaker could be a live album. And it’s in this setting that it’ll probably acquire an added directness.

‘Dawnbreaker’ will probably acquire an added directness when performed live


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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