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Dana Falconberry & Medicine BowDana Falconberry & Medicine Bow
Album: From The Forest Came The Fire
Label: BB*Island
Tracks: 9

Although avant-folk songwriter Dana Falconberry is influenced and inspired by Austin's diverse independent music community, to which she's closely aligned, her own music is a strongly personal expression of her belief that there's beauty in subtlety, a dictum learnt through spending time with nature from an early age. This album carefully and honestly explores her beliefs and chronicles her metaphysical journey through the landscapes of her country; its songs were written in a series of solitary retreats into remote areas. Noting that 2016 is the centennial anniversary of the US's National Parks, the plan is for Dana to celebrate this with gigs in many of these National Park locations; since most of these parks don't have a budget to pay Dana for these shows, she's launched a Pledge Music Campaign to help raise funds to make the tour possible. But returning to the music, this is a gently engrossing brand of chamber-pop-folk, wherein Dana's wispy voice is adorned with disparate, intricately woven, sweetly airy instrumental textures involving the distinctively light (and yet slightly troubled) sonic palette of acoustic guitars, harps, soft synths, quiet electrics and pattering percussion - the aural equivalent of nature's own music, one might say. Medicine Bow is the name adopted for Dana's backing band of four years' standing, whose musicians are clearly in tune with Dana's personal vision. The band comprises Christopher Cox (bass), Gina Dvorak (banjo, guitar), Karla Manzur (keys), Lindsey Verrill (cello) and Matthew Shepherd (percussion).

The songs themselves are of a thorny construction yet can appear maddeningly simple, while at the same time some of them refuse to yield up their secrets at all easily; Leona, for instance, is defiant and vision-driven yet frustratingly episodic and in the end elusive, whereas Powerlines drifts eerily and trippily in the ether and Alamogordo is unsettlingly propelled on a tightly wound yet irregular drum tattoo. The difficulty with From The Forest Came The Fire is that Dana's lyrics can be buried within the interest of the overall texture, or at least recessed to a certain extent, the end result being that they're not always ideally intelligible (although the provision of a lyrics booklet helps greatly) - here, then, Dana's quest for beauty within subtlety may have been taken a touch too far perhaps, but at the same time you can't fail to be captivated by the sound of this album as you're drawn into its quiet spaces.

David Kidman