Alongside the edgy girls of Elastica, Garbage and The Cranberries, and the feel-good sounds of girls like Emm Gryner, Lisa Loeb, and Shawn Colvin is where you are likely to find Laura Dawn.
While every female singer is said to be the latest Britney or Nelly or Pink, it is nice to hear a little edge come out of a woman’s pipes. A little rock, a little roll. And without the loss of femininity either. Quite a feat.
Born and raised in Pleasantville, Iowa, this is not the first dichotomy that reveals itself upon unravelling the mystery that is Laura.
“I especially loved the harmonies and backing vocals of country music. But I was also really into The Smashing Pumpkins and older rock groups like The Clash and The Pixies.”
The country to punk to rock sounds that Laura grew up with is evident on her CD Believer. Some fairly heavy guitar and vocals switching to small voiced poetry is the kind of back-and-forth that occurs during a listen from beginning to end.
“free and lonely life”, “useless in l.a.”, “so small”, “I would”, and “love you less” are all quieter songs. It sounds like small spaces and truth. I craved a beer and smelled cigarette smoke the whole time. The other quality these “girl-with-guitar” songs ooze is either film soundtracks or music you hear while your favourite character on your favourite thirtysomething-not-quite-a-soap-but-not Gilmore Girls-or-Dawson’s Creek television show packs his bags while he still loves the girl he’s leaving behind (think early Melrose or even a drama-edy such as Ed or Jack and Jill). A lot of music from television and movies has gone on to make some unknowns popular overnight. Look at what it did for the singers who did the themes for shows like Friends, Ally McBeal and Roswell.
Laura has a good voice (the last song named “the last song” is just her and the guitar and this is how I like her best — bare and strong, honest and full), but her lyrics are her most riveting feature.
From “party girl”:
All my friends are full of shit /say something true; they cut into it / guess that’s the cult of irony these days / they come over to my house / and they’ve all been in my mouth / and they don’t even know my last name / and its a short short walk to the stand but i don’t get very far / fuck the right guy in the right band and you’ll be a star / tell me who’s gonna find me when i sound the alarm? / when i sound the alarm
Sweet, now you’re a thing i’d keep / a walt disney dream you’re creepy and so mean / a cotton tail with teeth/sharp as a coral reef an underwater heart / i don’t know where i’d start . . . / you always seem to be right behind / these eyes are green / with envy for your kind, it’s / suspicious to me / delicious to me / but i’m not in your movie / i’m just alive
And this is what will keep the audience rapt, eyes on a woman that dares to contradict, a woman who uses words wisely and humourously. This is a woman to watch — and listen to.