Dawn Landes has surprised us all with her most recent offering, moving to this bold Nashville Country sound, on new record Meet Me At The River, which was out on September 14th on Yep Roc Records.
The twelve-song collection is the result from an unexpected partnership with Nashville legend Fred Foster, which certainly explains the genre change, we know her better for previously working with the likes of Sufjan Stevens, Nico Muhly, Norah Jones, Will Oldham and Andrew Bird.
Meet Me At The River is not only an unusual record for Landes, it also marks the first time that Foster has taken on a new act in years. After a call from Landes to Foster from a tour with Sufjan Stevens in New Zealand, they spent hours in Foster’s Tennessee home; listening to Hank Williams, sharing anecdotes, and clearly he was impressed in what he say in Dawn Landes, her fine song writing and vocals.
Classic for the genre, many of the songs including title track and opener are about heartbreak but she does also step on themes of wanderlust (the catchy Traveling) and the coming of age. The cynical Why They Name Whiskey After Men incorporates the lyrics, “comes on strong and keeps you warm before it starts to do you in, despite of the pain you go back again,” a reflective, forlorn yet jaunty track. Wind and Rain seems a metaphor for a relationship going back, “I don’t remember when it started to storm.” Southern Girl, however, brings the pace up a notch, albeit a short track. How To Say is a ballad that reflects on love and the things we perhaps ought to say whereas Keep On Moving is my stand out track on the album, an anecdotal track.
Her revival of Jimmy Driftwood’s What Is The Colour Of The Soul Of Man has attitude and yet also pathos, “it puzzles me both day and night, will the children’s souls be red or white.” Political charged, questioning racism, it is brazen and fresh for a track first released in the sixties, and unfortunately as relevant today still.
At first listen this album was a surprise for a Dawn Landes record, and I must admit, it took a few listens, but give it the time, there is much to be found here in the twelve tracks, along with Landes heart-wrenching vocals.
Meet Me At The River is out now via Yep Roc Records