Yep, I’m still listening to Dinah Thorpe! I still don’t know exactly what to say about “Lullabies and Wake-UP Calls.” Okay – I guess I do.
It’s good! Like really good! There, I said it.
Thorpe has some things to say and she delivers in a classic style that is undeniable. You can dance to it, but you can’t just dance and ignore the “song”.
It’s hard to peg the record with a genre, it’s kind of club-jazz-hip-hop kind of thing that reminds me of a gal I saw at Bonnaroo, last year. She and her very small band had the same stripped-down approach and it just worked! This gal drew a huge crowd that filled the entire That Tent and the 5 acres around it. Honestly, I like Dinah Thorpe better!
Can you say “Kate Bush, Joni Mitchell, and Arrested Developement” together? Well, those are a few names that come to mind while I spin this record over and again and again. The simplicity of it is almost entrancing. It actually inspired me to write a post about simplicity as a production technique, this morning. Of course, I shared some of my thoughts about the music there, too…
Did you hear what she did, there? Did you catch all those fancy flash guitar parts, the bad-ass bass drop, the double kick drum, and all those killer audio gimmicks? Right.
What we’ve got, here is a solid song with a lyric that touches just the right spots and has a melody that sticks right away. Vocals aren’t in any way forced or contrived… she capitalizes on the strengths of her somewhat dark/smokey voice and the “hardness” she can carry with “softness.”
Carried by a nice Rhodes sound and a tight-mic’ed drum beat, the instrumentation is just enough. It has the pulse, the mood, and the movement all wrapped up in a few simple parts. Two instruments and one voice times two, that’s all.
It’s a production technique that has worked well for decades and always will.
She mixes tempos, keys, and styles and does things that almost no one would dream of (such as playing without a click track and letting the tempo almost go wild – like it should). There’s a beautiful Irish ballad sung a cappella and a rather off-the-wall ukulele tune “Brick Wall” with some really dissonant chords that really make it stand out without sounding wrong [it’s one of my favorites].
Dynamically… everything comes out nice and clear and there is always room for the energetic parts to stand out. A good example of that is the song “Prospect”
It all boils down to the old adage – start with a great song and just give it what it asks for.
Put this one on the playlist, gang – trust me.