Image © Plain Jane Records 2003
More Daughter Darling
Interview and Photos
Image © Plain Jane Records 2003
(26 July 2003) Daughter Darling, a trio comprising Natalie Walker
(vocals, lyrics, guitar, keyboards), Travis Fogelman (producer, programmer)
and Stephen Fogelman (producer, programmer, dj) have released their
highly-anticipated debut Sweet Shadows (Plain Jane Records (USA)
783707725826, 2003). The final result is a luminous and breathtaking
collection of eleven tracks that are moody, evocative and poignant.
The band openly admits their influences, which include trip-hop and
female singer/songwriter artists such as Portishead, Sneaker Pimps,
Poe and Tori Amos. And while some of the ethereal and haunting
qualities of these artists shine through in Daughter Darling's work,
the band has successfully developed their own unique style and sound
that sets them apart from other acts in the "trip-hop" field.
While some of the tracks do retain downtempo percussion lines and the
occassional dj "scratch," the majority of Daughter Darling's songs are
imbued with a searing loveliness that allows the music to transcend
the standard "trip-hop" label. This may be in large part due to
Natalie's blazing and powerful voice and the fresh piano (JD Kinder)
and stings (Daniel DeJesus) that are featured in many of the songs.
Natalie's voice, which sounds eerily like the marriage of Sarah McLachlan
and Fiona Apple's voices, is one of the single best that we've heard in
some time. Hailing from the Indianapolis area, Natalie answered Travis
Fogelman's ad for a female vocalist to sing lead for a trip-hop band.
Strangely, Natalie is a very devout Christian and Travis and Stephen
are avowed atheists. After several attempts to move the album forward,
Natalie almost walked away to pursue a career as a Christian singer.
Fortunately, luck--or destiny--was on the trio's side. Like any
good band, Daughter Darling's members had their share of creative
differences. However, the various opposing forces that came into play
during the creative sessions for Sweet Shadows have beautifully
coalesced into something wonderful.
The soldily melancholy "Broken Bridge," is the opening track. Featuring
a breakbeat percussion groove and whip-sharp piano, Natalie's voice
immediately invades the listener's ears. Add to this some superbly
well-crafted lyrics and the end result is an addicting and lush first
track. "Shattered" is a deeply affecting song about suicide. Here,
Natalie uses her rich and emotional singing to give proper treatment
to the subject matter. The instrumentation is looming and dark without
being oppressive. Track three is the Fiona Apple-esque "Let Me Speak."
Throwing down some seriously "skanky" beats, Travis supplies the meat
for the song along with his brother Stephen (aka DJ Infinit) who spices
up the entire thing with some fierce scratching. And of course, Natalie
sounds amazing in her moaning torch-singer mode.
The goose-bump-inducing "Absconding" is definitely a highlight. Relying
soley upon JD Kinder's piano and Daniel DeJesus' cello, Natalie completely
rips the ceiling down (vocally speaking) and proves that Canadian and
European singers aren't the only ones that can unleash the otherwordly
with their voices. "Mermaid" is an ambient/chill-out piece that winds
steadily into the heart. Who would have ever thought that aquatic
noises and ocean waves would combine so perfectly with drum-n-bass
percussion? The funk-o-matic "Sad and Lonely" is a terrific piece,
emphasizing Daughter Darling's ability to work within a more traditional
The folkie "Things Untold" compares favorably with Jewel's "Who Will
Save Your Soul" in its contemplative and meandering style. "Voodoo
Games" is the darkest track on the album. The story is about an
individual who uses a voodoo doll against his former girlfriend.
The music reflects the late-night, sinister quality of the lyrics.
The innovative "You Won't See Me" is an interesting folk ballad
with oriental flavorings. The Portishead influence is most
strong in "Sweet Shadows" which includes some nightmarish samples
and a jack-swing beat. Top-notch.
"Sweet Shadows" closes with a brilliant remake of the Kansas hit
"Dust in the Wind." Although this may seem and odd choice for a
"trip-hop" band, Daughter Darling actually improve upon an already
good thing. The dreamy and introspective guitar rift (Jason Baron)
is combined with a subtle drum track. What stands out, again, is
Natalie's earthy and bluesy vocals giving this classic a truly
Generally, the creation of the genre known as "trip-hop" is
attributed to the British "trinity" (Massive Attack, Portishead,
and Tricky) who pioneered the sound in the early-mid nineties.
Since that time, numerous bands such as Mandalay, Goldfrapp,
Sneaker Pimps, Alpha, Airlock, Lamb and Hooverphonic have
taken the core trip-hop ideal and generated various permutations.
Daughter Darling can certainly be considered equals in this
pantheon. However, Daughter Darling have expertly moved
beyond the formulaic in creating a debut that is emotionally
stirring and musically seductive. In fact, it is fair to say
that Daughter Darling may be the musical revelation of 2003.
If this is the future of trip-hop, we are most optimistic!
--Justin Elswick with Russ Elliot
Read further reviews,
listen to soundbites and order the album
Clearly with exploration worth a trans-Atlantic journey,
this debut album by Daughter Darling is a must listen.