Nataly Dawn – How I Knew Her
by Erica Moser (Journalism), published February 26th 2013
Moldy | Stale | Edible | Fresh | Tasty!
A name like Nataly Dawn could make for a promising career as a My Little Pony character or Disney princess, or at the other end of the spectrum, a stripper. But the 26-year-old Dawn, of the duo Pomplamoose, decided to be a singer instead. Her debut solo album, How I Knew Her, indicates that this was a good choice.
Dawn fits into the category of female singers whose voices have the quality of an elusive fairy drifting through trees on a spring afternoon. (Think Regina Spektor, Feist, and St. Vincent.) Many get by on little else, but this is not the case with Dawn. She is more than a pretty voice. She does not simply let her voice be, but texturizes it, sounding curious or anguished, mysterious or snarky, whimsical or saddened. And there is a compelling contrast between her pleasant, peaceful sound and part quirky, part neurotic content.
On “Back to the Barracks,” a study in major-minor shifts, she sings, “I shot you in the arm / it was intentional – or unintentional / my thoughts were unaware.” The opening track reads like a folk tale, and “Still a Believer” tells of how her grandma says Dawn is going to hell for meeting a boy and making rock music. Others read like letters written to former friends, lovers, and acquaintances decades in the future, after acquiring wisdom and letting emotions marinate. An example is “Why Did You Marry,” in which she observes that in the movies, “no one ever says, ‘thanks, Cary Grant, but I think I’ll just get my own place.’” Then there is “Even Steven,” the token kiss-off song, and “Long Running Joke,” which is, to quote the opening credits of the TV show Suburgatory, a pleasant nightmare.
Dawn balances her themes successfully. The songs that are personal and inwardly focused do not become emo or excessively philosophical, and those that tell stories have just the right amount of quirk. How I Knew Her is a peculiar compilation of far-reaching tales, advice, lamentations, questions, and assertions. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what makes it unique, but that, in and of itself, is half the charm.
Recommended Tracks: Back to the Barracks, Long Running Joke, Counting Down