|Dinah Thorpe — Lullabies and Wake–up Calls (2013)|
Dinah Thorpe — Lullabies and Wake–up Calls
♦≡♦ Dinahs music as a whole resists simple genre definitions. ♦≡♦ The Toronto–based artist has been favorably compared to Laurie Anderson, Portishead, Natalie Merchant, Beth Orton, Grace Jones, Feist, and David Bowie among others. But Thorpe draws on a hugely diverse range of influences from folk to rap, trip hop to blues, orchestral to techno and distills them into a musical style that is unmistakably Dinah Thorpe.
♦≡♦ Just as one might expect her to step onto a soapbox, her gorgeous, ethereal singing voice takes over and immediately enchants the listener. She could tell us to do whatever she wants, and I guarantee we’d be out the door before the song finished. It’s this incredible balance that makes Lullabies such a landmark album. The best part is there are clearly no record company gimmicks here, no commercial political statements. It’s just Dinah Thorpe, her soul, and her undeniable talent. — ALLISON JOHNELLE BORON
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Album release: November 12, 2013
Record Label: Dinah Thorpe
01 Prospect 3:27
02 Time to Try 2:46
03 Hold a Place 3:25
04 Carsick 3:27
05 Can I See What's in Your Backpack 2:27
06 Mining for Gold (Dinah Thorpe & James Gordon) 1:40
07 Brick Wall 5:17
08 This Little Light/Your Car Is Not a Reindeer 4:38
09 State of Things 4:01
10 Milk the State (Revisited) 3:35
11 Morning Rush Hour in Cartown 2:53
♦≡♦ All other songs written by Dinah Thorpe
▼ Armed with a Juno nomination for her second album 12 — a project we described as “provocative and supremely artful” — Toronto-based singer, songwriter and poet Dinah Thorpe goes deep and wide on her latest Lullabies and Wake Up Calls.
▼ True to the split strategy referenced in the title, the project runs the stylistic gamut, from quietly mesmerizing balladry to contrasting Laurie-Anderson styled spoken word portraits charged with a streetwise, political flow. At the album’s heart remains Thorpe’s remarkable voice, whether singing her alt-folk melodies with a delicate, airy tone or letting her words simply tumble out, in dramatic rhyme — and sometimes both within the span of a single song (“Hold a Place”). As the last notes and syllables fade, what remains is an album that both incites and inspires, pulling you into the warmth while simultaneously pushing you to think.
Troy Arnold; Score: ****
♦≡♦ “Speak softly but carry a big stick” is what comes to mind while listening to Dinah Thorpe’s latest album, Lullabies and Wake-Up Calls. Alternating between soft, haunting ballads and more up-tempo spoken word sections, Lullabies doesn’t want you to listen so much as it wants you to get lost. Dinah Thorpe’s voice is center stage, but this is truly a showcase of versatile talent. Turning over political tones, recalling stories of getting her daughter ready for school, or being the one who cleans after a party, Lullabies and Wake-Up Calls is a purposefully schizophrenic expose on the human condition. There may be two sides to every coin, but even those sides have their own variations.
♦≡♦ Part of what makes Lullabies and Wake-Up Calls so much fun to listen to, for me at least, is the use of sarcasm and humor in her spoken word sections. Used at moments when the songs breakdown and force you to really pay attention. “I’ve got a notebook, and pen, and an apple. Not a Mac, an actual apple. Food, remember those?” She is having fun, and so are we. The quickest comparison, at least vocally would be Natalie Merchant or Feist, and that vocal consistency is felt throughout the album, but what she “lacks” in range, she more than makes up for in concept. Not to sugarcoat things; the same aspect of her music that makes it interesting in some regards also has a tendency to become overbearing, but that is a fine line to dance on if you're actually trying to say something in your music.
♦≡♦ Songs that call for dismantling the internet as a means of getting people to reconnect, or re-imagining “Fever” by Peggy Lee, Dinah Thorpe always seems to be in her element. The term “Alternative-Funk” has more weight to it when it’s obvious that she is running the gamut between subtle genre changes, almost effortlessly. This is a testament to her songwriting ability. Even that feels like shortchanging what is actually happening on Lullabies. I can’t stop listening to it, because much like a good genre-mashing movie, I catch something new on every new play through some line, or lyric, or reference, even emotion.
♦≡♦ Conceptually, Lullabies and Wake–Up Calls was supposed to be a double album, one section being more slow, and sorrowful, the other more upbeat and energetic. ♦≡♦ Eventually, the songs either melded together or just went their own way. The album was then condensed into what we get now, and I think we’re all the better for it. ♦≡♦ Lullabies and Wake-Up Calls may not be for everyone, but for those that find it within their wheelhouse, it’ll be a refreshing listen, something to sit by the window on a rainy day to. Now excuse me, I’m going to listen to it again.
Worth a listen: Carsick, Can I See What’s In Your Backpack, Brickwall
By Michael Thomas; Posted on April 16, 2014
By ALLISON JOHNELLE BORON; on April 16, 2014 at 11:14 am
BY JAMES MCQUISTON; APRIL 12, 2014; Rating: 8.6/10
By Cody Conard; 11 February 2014
By Anna Murphy; 02.07.2014
▼ Maybe it’s a third child thing, but Dinah Thorpe has a hard time making a lot of noise about her accomplishments. She therefore has to rely on other people to do it for her. Thorpe has been called “one of the best voices we've heard in the twenty-first century,” a singer with a “gorgeously deep and weary alto,” “a wicked multi-instrumentalist,” “a composer of infinite cleverness,” “provocative and supremely artful,” and “warm, accessible, inviting, and impressive”. Thorpe calls herself a songwriter, musician, and producer, and she lives, gardens, bikes, and works in Toronto.
▼ Dinah Thorpe has become an increasingly commanding musical presence of late. Her previous song cycle, 12 (a 2012 JUNO nominee for album art), was showered with glowing reviews that applauded Thorpe’s uncompromising style, wry political aptitude, and ability to craft genre-melding pop that isn’t afraid to be smart. 12 also earned Dinah a nomination for an Independent Music Award in the Folk/Singer–Songwriter category. From the striking cover image to the remarkable music inside, all signs point to her new album making even bigger waves.
▼ Thorpe initially envisionedLullabies and Wake–Up Calls — her third full–length — as a two-disc album, one spare and quiet, the other dense and loud. As the writing process developed, however, Thorpe found some songs resisting one category or the other, so the tracks were condensed into one disc that is an exercise in beautiful contradiction. Melody meets beats, acoustic meets electronic, sadness meets hope. As songwriter, performer, and producer, Thorpe plays multiple stylistic roles on the album as well — from the vocalist whose stunning alto bathes the listener in tranquility, to the activist who uses her anti–establishment flow to dissect everything from traffic congestion to animal abuse. L&WUC’s is equal parts grace, humour, and commentary.
▼ Thorpe’s music as a whole resists simple genre definitions. The Toronto–based artist has been favorably compared to Laurie Anderson, Portishead, Natalie Merchant, Beth Orton, Grace Jones, Feist, and David Bowie among others. But Thorpe draws on a hugely diverse range of influences — from folk to rap, trip hop to blues, orchestral to techno — and distills them into a musical style that is unmistakably her own. If you ask her, Thorpe says: “Whatever it gets called, what I hope for my work is that it moves people — that it helps them through difficult days, or helps them enjoy fabulous days, or invites them to think or to dance. Or both.”
▼ Thorpe has honed her performance chops opening for Buck 65 in a boxing gym, playing at a public bath in Zürich, and sharing the stage with industry heavyweights like Kate & Anna McGarrigle, The Cliks, Eternia, and Melissa Ferrick. Her past festival appearances include POP Montréal, Hillside, NXNE, Europride, In the Dead of Winter, Mayworks, and Ladyfest. Thorpe’s work has infiltrated television and art galleries alike, with "Election Song" featured on MTV's Sixteen and Pregnant, and new music commissioned for Evan Tapper's installation, Swoon. Thorpe’s song “In the Country” is featured on the soundtrack for the Diana Scheunemann film, Love American Skin.
Influences: The Roots, Feist, Dolly Parton, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, Nina Simone, Bjœrk, Portishead, Buddy Holly, Kinnie Starr, Beethoven
▼ LULLABIES AND WAKE–UP CALLS
Released November, 2013
Released June, 2011
▼ TRUTHS AND OTHER STORIES
Released September, 2009
▼ SELF–TITLED EP
Released May, 2008
Press: Sue McCallum (Canada), (289)314-4380, email@example.com; Samuel and Jennifer at Working Brilliantly (USA), (951)659-2452, firstname.lastname@example.org
WORKING BRILLIANTLY: http://www.workingbrilliantly.com/#!__dinah-thorpe
FOR Lullabies & Wake–Up Calls:
♦≡♦ "A landmark album." — Popdose
♦≡♦ "Deliciously twisted.. the album kicks ass..." — Grayowl Point
"Dinah Thorpe makes clever, political folk music...A talented storyteller and multi–instrumentalist with a sense of humour, Thorpe’s music is warm, accessible, inviting, and impressive." — POP Montréal
♦≡♦ "The genre–hopping Thorpe never fails to delight on the 12 songs that comprise 12. Seemingly endlessly creative, the smoky–voiced Thorpe takes her expanding oeuvre into the realms of jazz and country with the release of 12. " — Cindy Filipenko, Herizons
♦≡♦ "Wow...Dinah Thorpe is in a word...incredible. This young lady has one of those voices so fantastic that it wouldn't matter what she's singing...because her voice alone is enough to carry her way through any tune. But the voice is really only part of the equation here. In addition to having one of best voices we've heard in the twenty-first century, Ms. Thorpe is also a songwriter of the highest calibre." — Babysue
♦≡♦ "To say that Toronto indie chanteuse Dinah Thorpe defies easy categorization is to misunderstand the word "easy". Listening to 12, Thorpe's provocative and supremely artful new album officially arriving stateside next week, everything — and we mean everything — seems to come rather easy, actually, to this chameleon-like songwriter and instrumentalist. It's just that any concept of genre barrier means nothing. Country? Pop? Moody cabaret? Folk? Jazz? It's all up for grabs in this remarkable production."
— Direct Curent
♦≡♦ "...rich, multi–layered vocals playfully haunt your brain as they weave back and forth between your ears (headphones strongly encouraged). Thorpe is literate, politically astute, and crafts siren songs around her dreams and visions with everything from a synth to a ukulele. The results will brighten your day" — 3Hive
FOR '12': "...each track on the record offers a new sound, anchored by Thorpes voice and clever lyrics. The album contains traces of electronica, hip hop, dance, and baroque pop to go along with the prevalent folk themes, and this experimentation highlights Thorpes production abilities." — In Your Speakers
♦≡♦ "The Canadian spoken–word/avant garde surprise package of Dinah Thorpe is a delicate, environmental and political force of grace." — Independent Feedback
♦≡♦ "...the project runs the stylistic gamut, from quietly mesmerizing balladry to contrasting Laurie–Anderson styled spoken word portraits charged with a streetwise, political flow. At the album's heart remains Thorpe's remarkable voice, whether singing her alt–folk melodies with a delicate, airy tone or letting her words simply tumble out, in dramatic rhyme — and sometimes both within the span of a single song ("Hold A Place"). As the last notes and syllables fade, what remains is an album that both incites and inspires." — Direct Current
2014 Juno Award Nominee for Recording Package of the Year!
♦≡♦ "I was immediately and immensely won over by her alternative folk–pop style, and her ability to seamlessly transition from catchy melodies to rhythmic speaking." — Earmilk
♦≡♦ "Dinah Thorpe is a young and talented indie–folk and pop artist who has a brilliant and refreshing sound." — Empty Lighthouse
|Dinah Thorpe — Lullabies and Wake–up Calls (2013)|