Perhaps more than most music genres with ‘alt-’ in front of it, alt-country has had a lot of wonderful songstresses. The sonic style naturally lends itself to letting female vocals shine (while the ‘alt-’ at least should lessen the ‘eye candy’ importance). Some ladies have risen, some have fallen, and some just keep delivering no matter what, like Dawn Landes (QRO interview) on Bluebird.
Written in the wake of her divorce with fellow alt-country troubadour Josh Ritter, Bluebird is definitely a sadder record than her last full-length, 2011’s Sweetheart Rodeo (QRO review), and softer, from the natural beauty of the title track/opener to piano-resigned close “Home”. That does take away from the grittier trail that Landes did so well on Rodeo, but she can pull off sadness too, like the pitch-perfect “Oh Brother” and “Love Song”, though the tone does get a little repetitive.
Landes’ split with Ritter may have broken her heart (though raised hopes for unrequited alt-country fans around the world, because that’s all that was standing in the way of you getting together with either…), but she didn’t just channel it into Bluebird for ‘another break-up record’, but has built something more.