Here's another guest review from Scott J. For those of you in the LA area, you can catch Dawn for free this Monday at Spaceland....
Dawn Landes' newest collection of songs, Fireproof (released in the U.S. on March 4th), is your standard hit-or-miss effort. Landes describes her music as "reminiscent of the raw traditionalism of Woody Guthrie and [of] experimental alt-folk lyricism." That's actually a pretty accurate description, and it provides a nice breakdown for the tunes on Fireproof.
Landes hits with the "raw traditionalism" of "Tired of This Life" (a straight-forward tune in a classic country vein with some nice picking and tight harmonies), "Twilight" (a wistful vibe with good male-female harmonies and steel guitar in the background--I'm a sucker for nice steel guitar), and "You Alone."
She tends to miss with the "experimental alt-folk lyricism." (And with that overwrought description, she's probably bound to miss.) "Bodyguard" uses dissonant chord structures between the vocals and a banjo to make you grind your teeth. "Picture Show" is a little too reminiscent of Suzanne Vega for me to like it. Weird first-person storyteller lyrics, strange scratchy effects on the sound, and an annoying toy piano playing background chords.
"Goodnight Lover" and "I Don't Need No Man" are exceptions from the rule, perhaps. Certainly not traditional tunes, they're both listenable, if not my favorite tracks.
Landes is a recording engineer by day, so some of her mis-steps on Fireproof might owe to engineering experimentations gone wrong. If you're going to see her play out, my suggestion would be stay for the simple tunes. If she starts fiddling with technology, use that time to visit the loo.