Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Dawn Smithson / Safer Here / Rating 6.8

In an artistic progression strikingly similar to that of former Eric's Trip bassist Julie Doiron, Smithson has crafted a home-recorded, bittersweet songcycle in reverence of solitude.

Julie Doiron and Dawn Smithson were both in bands during the early to mid 90's. Eric's Trip registered somewhere in the MBV fanclub with an obvious nod to Sonic Youth and other notable shoegazers while Jessamine liked Can and the Silver Apples A LOT.

Julie and Dawn originally played bass and have since moved on to other instruments. (including and mainly playing guitar)

They are both woman still making music but now in a semi-solo fashion. ( semi-solo = w/collaberations)

PFM says about Dawn: "Smithson has crafted a home-recorded, bittersweet songcycle in reverence of solitude. Utilizing a skeletal, percussion-less backdrop, the album centers its hermetic gaze upon Smithson's serene vocals and intimate, plainspoken lyrics to create an inviting haven, while coolly ignoring the fact that in music such safety is not necessarily the highest virtue."

PFM says about Julie : Like Bettie Serveert's Carol van Dijk without the sunny smiles, Beth Orton without the reverb chamber and the Chemical Brothers connection, or Jenny Toomey on Xanax, Doiron has a natural ache in her voice that manages to sidestep both wistful whimsy and wretched despair.

PFM gave both Dawn's record a 6.8 and Julie and the Wooden Stars record a 6.8.

The comparisons end here.

A strikingly similar "artistic progression"starts and ends with bass player girl from underground 90's band going solo and home recording sad songs. More importantly neither woman makes art identical to the other nor did they share the same path along the way.

Julie has been making music, playing guitar and writing her own songs since the mid/late 90's. She has steadily recorded new material ever since.

Dawn started Safer Here in 2004 and has not released any solo material until this year. She has been on hiatus for more than 6 years and as much as I want to love her work post Jessamine, she simply isn't a strong singer or songwriter...yet.

Safer Here sounds like a first record and she will need a good 10 years to reach Doiron's skill level. Smithson is on the right path but even knowing this is her first solo record doesn’t excuse the final product which barely chalks up to mildy provacative AKA deserves a rating of 4 or 5 tops.

PFM tried their best to find compatible indie female artists ( The Safer Here review also mentions Cat Power and Christina Carter) but in the modern world of sad singer songwriter types I think they could they have dared to compare a few male artists or focused on the music beyond the vocals.