Based in Brooklyn, but raised in Louisville, singer-songwriter Dawn Landes has been writing songs for most of her life, and already has more than a decade of experience as a professional producer and engineer. After leaving NYU where she studied psychology and literature, Landes began honing her production and engineering skills, working at Stratosphere Sound (owned by James Iha, Adam Schlesinger, and Andy Chase), and at Philip Glass' personal recording studio, before launching Saltlands Studio in Brooklyn with partners Steve Salett and Gary Maurer.
Her new album Bluebird was produced in collaboration with good friend Thomas Bartlett (known for his work with The National, Sharon Van Etten, Rufus Wainwright, Antony and the Johnsons, and many others), and features contributions from Tony Scherr, Rob Moose, and Norah Jones.
Press coverage of Bluebird will understandably present this album as Dawn's answer to her ex's "divorce record". However, like any great songwriter, she's abstracting her personal narratives enough to leave them open to interpretation and a larger meaning. Bartlett's spartan production keeps the vibe intimate, making it easy to connect with these naked and honest songs which manage to rise above the context in which they were written. In the end, the fact that Bluebird is Landes' way of processing the overwhelming emotions she dealt with after her divorce doesn't matter – there are two sides to every story, and this is hers.
Spectral, languid, and arranged with a light touch, the songs are filled with after-midnight ruminations couched in a dreamy ambiance and centered on Landes’ beguiling, ethereal voice
Dawn Landes music sits neatly on the fulcrum between Cat Power and Neko Case
Her compelling mix of alternative folk with instrumental experimentation - on guitar, accordion, glockenspiel and optigan gives her sweet-sounding indie-pop grooves just the right hint of country
Landes, a New York-dwelling songwriter who happens to be married to songwriter Josh Ritter, has a honey-crisp style of singing that sounds, on this record, like an old-time bluegrass singer, in the way that Jenny Lewis does - no flash, no showy display, no breathtaking few seconds, when the colored fire suddenly usurps the entire sky and blows the eyes a thousand kisses
The comparisons to Feist and Jenny Lewis aren't unwarranted. New York singer-songwriter Dawn Landes is a haunting presences in the world of alt-folk experimentalism. Her lyrics mix whimsy with irony. Her faltering voices hints at vulnerability hidden beneath her hypnotic stage presences
Musically she exists somewhere between Feist and Townes Van Zandt, and her New York-by-way-of-Kentucky pluck is a refreshing antidote to schmaltzy neo-folk
Dawn's songs evoke the landscape of the all-American outback. Her debut album, Fireproof, makes you think of frayed lumberjack shirts, dirt-tracks and the desert sun burning on the back of your neck
The Kentucky bred New Yorker specialize[s] in pretty, meandering numbers infused with a back-porch aesthetic and storytelling smarts