The alt-country & anti-folk scenes are full of ‘little ladies’ doing their thang with twang & charm, so you might just pass over Dawn Landes (QRO interview) – and you’d be wrong. She well-executed that twang & charm on her 2008 U.S. debut, Fireproof (QRO review), and gets even finer now with Sweet Heart Rodeo, especially when she throws in a little trail rhythm into the mix.
That trail procession (sort of road, but country/folk-ified) starts with the up-down trot of opener “Young Girl”, but breaks into a gallop in the middle with the alt-twang almost-titular “Sweetheart of the Rodeo”. Landes certainly knows here way around rhythm, whether procession like those two, or smaller & sweeter pieces that display her charm, such as “Romeo” or “Clown”; the Casio repeat key notes in the latter are reminiscent of Fireproof‘s excellent “Picture Show”, though twentieth century, not nineteenth. That touch of ‘tronica is nicely leavened into Sweet Heart, up to and including indietronica instrumental finish “All Dressed In White”.
Landes doesn’t abandon her harmonies, like in the sweet & sad “Little Miss Holiday” (the sweetest song about prostitutes you ever will hear…) and the subsequent “Dance Area”, though the more stripped “Brighton” which follows that doesn’t reach the carrying, flowing heights of the previous two. And Sweet Heart has one out-and-out flop: “Love” starts over-sweet, and then goes over-psych for some reason. The former part’s mistake is understandable, the latter’s isn’t (the song even has the weakest of titles…).
But that one misstep aside, Sweet Heart Rodeo keeps what made Fireproof winning, while also seeing Landes nicely grow. Don’t miss Dawn – she’s sure to win you over.