Donna Dean: What Am I Gonna Do? (Ode)

 |   |  1 min read

Donna Dean: Empty Big Blue Sky
Donna Dean: What Am I Gonna Do? (Ode)

When it comes to country music (alt. or country-rock) Donna Dean has the credentials: the gal has done it all -- marriage, kids, divorce, rehab, bars and clubs, opening for the likes of Willie Nelson, Jimmy Webb and the Penn-Oldham team . . .

She spent time in London and Europe, recorded her debut album Money with The Amazing Rhythm Aces in Nashville, and for this follow-up recorded in Auckland she hooks in Bill Chambers and Nigel Gavin (on mandolin) alongside a cracking band which includes pedal steel, dobro and Weisenborn.

Dean really covers the stylistic waterfront here: the album opens with the airy, prairie-wide ballad title track, follows that with the backbeat-driven country rocker Baby Doesn't Love Me (which could have come from the Sweetheart of the Rodeo-era Byrds) and elsewhere there are finely crafted songs which shift from pure country-rock (Shania Twain and the likes could do worse than look to Too High here) to roadhouse rockers (Rain Fall On Me, Some Sweet Day).

The centrepiece Pray -- "get disappointed by trivial things, then I get down on my luck, that's when I need a reminder to get my priorities straight . . . I get down and pray" -- is a thoughful, pointed ballad. As is the deliciously spare Fireflies.

Aside from this welcome musical diversity, Dean is a writer with something to say. A Silent Lie here is a model of economy and observation: "A tiny crack appeared as your story unfolded, the tilt of your head, the way you shrugged your shoulders. You didn't have to say a name, I could smell her in the silence, feel her in my veins . . ."

And The Tumble right at the end is a motel room late at night when the blue light from television, as silent as the night sky, casts a lonely glow and it's clear "you're not coming back . . . I'm missing you".

Donna Dean has won Tui (songwriting) awards and is a country songwriter of great depth -- and the brief liner notes here say these are "songs that will stand the test of time because they're well crafted and rooted in truth".

But you've already guessed that from what I've said, right?

Share It

Your Comments

Tami - Aug 11, 2010

Go Donna! This sounds amazing, can't wait to get the album.

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Band of Horses: Cease to Begin (SubPop) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

Band of Horses: Cease to Begin (SubPop) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

Increasingly I am liking contemporary rock albums that annoy me because I can't quickly figure them out -- and this is one of them. Not having heard their "critically acclaimed" debut... > Read more

Ruthie Foster: Let It Burn (Fuse/Border)

Ruthie Foster: Let It Burn (Fuse/Border)

After her thrilling appearance before the sad figure of BB King at a concert last year -- and I retract not a word of what I said here about King, he was woeful -- you'd hardly think Ruthie Foster... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

THE T.A.M.I. AWARDS, a concert film by STEVE BINDER

THE T.A.M.I. AWARDS, a concert film by STEVE BINDER

Widely considered one of the best rock films ever made, this long-overdue DVD release might throw you back to 1964 ( to the Teenage Awards Music International) but from the hysteria with which the... > Read more

Mike Nock: An Accumulation of Subtleties (FWM/Rhythmethod)

Mike Nock: An Accumulation of Subtleties (FWM/Rhythmethod)

This quite exceptional double disc by New Zealand-born pianist/composer Nock arrives with the advantage of great timing: Norman Meehan's fine biography of Nock, Serious Fun, has just been published... > Read more