While you’d be hard-pressed to find a satisfactory definition of “alt-country”, Dawn Landes’ recently released full-length, Fireproof, makes a pretty strong case for the sub-genre’s existence regardless. Though most of Landes’ songs are rooted in the folk, country and bluegrass traditions, the Brooklyn-by-way-of-Kentucky songwriter throws enough curve balls that she can’t easily be shoehorned into any one of those boxes. A banjo figures strongly in opening track “Bodyguard” but on the whole, the song sounds more like early Cat Power, minus the cigarettes and booze. Meanwhile, “Picture Show” rides a crackly vinyl sample and warped beat, much like the Eels’ “Novocaine for the Soul”, before segueing into a full-on power pop outro. For all her genre-bending charms, however, Landes is at her best when accompanied by only a single acoustic guitar, like on album closer “You Alone” and the hidden-track that follows it, a heartbreaking reading of Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down”.
We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong on the Internet. Please consider a donation to support our work as independent cultural critics and historians. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing and challenging times where costs have risen and advertising has dropped precipitously. We need your help to keep PopMatters strong and growing. Thank you.