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Kid Dakota

Listen to the Crows as They Take Flight

(Graveface; US: 11 Oct 2011; UK: 11 Oct 2011)

Darren Jackson has been performing as Kid Dakota for some time now, and on Listen to the Crows as They Take Flight, you see how comfortable he’s become. He’s got his understated indie-pop sound down, and it works for him when it remains subtle. The album opens with on a somber yet promising note when on “Dawn Did Us Apart”, he groans, “I moved back in with my parents / what else could I do?” That resignation is something he both pushes back against and sometimes embraces all over this record.


The finest moments use his moody, minor-key riffs to mesmerize you, to wrap you in the same trudging worry as the narrators of these songs. “War and Pieces” builds on these elements to make an epic yet restrained rock song, while closer “Fiber Optic Failure” plays like an indie ode to Gillian Welch, the space and heartfelt quiet of it ending the record on the right note. That song is also, however, righting the ship, considering this album can sometimes can spill over into melodrama. That opening song, which starts so promisingly, breaks open into a crescendo that feels far too big for its domestic setting.


Elsewhere, ex-lovers are compared to phantom limbs and idealized characters study Marxism while they hate their jobs. In these moments, Jackson feels like he’s pressing, trying too hard to point to the quirks of his songs instead of letting his natural sense of shadowed melody come through. When he focuses on his strengths, when he lures us in instead of shouting for our attention—those are the moments that will stick with you.

Rating:

Matthew Fiander is a music critic for PopMatters and Prefix Magazine. He also writes fiction and his work has appeared in The Yalobusha Review. He received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from UNC-Greensboro and currently teaches writing and literature at High Point University in High Point, NC. You can follow him on Twitter at @mattfiander.


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Kid Dakota - Fiber Optic Failure (Live)
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