Back in the olden days, back before the internet, before MTV, things were different. Our musical horizons were limited to pop music radio stations, to American Bandstand, to the occasional "rising star" featured on Solid Gold--especially if you grew up in the sorts of backwater towns that I did. These towns lacked not only a cultural "scene" of any sort, but often lacked a radio station that played anything from the decade in which we currently lived.
Despite growing up in just such a town, Daughter-Only's experience has been entirely different. Thanks to the internet, a woman such as myself (with my wholly unsophisticated musical tastes) has somehow managed to birth and raise a daughter who is thoroughly devoted to the concept of "indie" music. Many of the artists and bands to whom Daughter-Only has sworn her devotion measure their success in "hits" on YouTube, in the sales of albums and merchandise they produce in their own garages and ship out to a narrow, but nonetheless, rabid fanbase.
So it was that by the time Dia Frampton made her "debut" on NBC's The Voice, her actual voice had long since been a staple in our home. Daughter-Only's obsessive replaying of Dia's solo work and her work with her sister (as Meg & Dia) was a refreshing break from what I considered the monotonal droning of much of the music Daughter-Only listened to. Once the world at large was introduced to Daughter-Only's well-kept secret, Dia scored a major label recording contract (and second place on the first season of The Voice under the direction of "coach" Blake Shelton) and her album Red was wrapped and tucked into the Christmas tree for Daughter-Only.
Each spring, when I worked at the flower shop with Cranky Boss Lady, there was a four- to six-week window when we could get a "filler" flower called boronia heather.* Its delicate, hot pink flowers grow in clusters on a semi-woody stem. It is gorgeous to look at, but the major selling point as far as Cranky and I were concerned was its scent. It is a scent unlike any other--sweet, but not cloyingly so, crisp, almost citrusy--it is a bright smell, if such a thing exists. It is so addictive that I remarked more than once to Cranky Boss Lady that even as I was smelling it, I was still actively craving it.
Dia's voice is kind of like that. There is a sweetness to it, but not the bubble-gummy pop sweetness of many young female singers. Instead, there is a cripsness there, a purity, a clarity that works no matter what the tempo or subject of the song. In the songs that deal with heavier topics (such as "Isabella," in which the narrator urges a young girl to leave the turmoil of her parents' home or "The Broken Ones" with the lyrics, "I can't help it, I love the broken ones/The ones who need the most patching up."), the contrast of that sweet voice with the dark lyrics is deliciously, irresistibly poignant.
Speaking of lyrics, Dia is more than just an amazing voice--she also wrote or cowrote everything on the album. The lyrics are not merely catchy, but also witty and intelligent. Though be warned--nearly every song has serious earworm potential.
Red is that exceedingly rare album that Daughter-Only and I agree on. By virtue of that fact alone, it is a remarkable work.
Masked Mom's One-Word Review: Enjoyable.
*Alas, there was no scratch-n-sniff link available. Google really let me down on this one.
37 minutes ago