Sunday, December 23, 2007

Sunday Spotlight - Dawn Kinnard

Welcome to the third installment of the Sunday Spotlight. Today, you'll have a chance to meet Dawn Kinnard. Dawn grew up in Pennsylvania in a church run by her Baptist preacher father (Tori Amos anyone?). When she turned sixteen, she became obsessed with Elvis and swore that the King was the only man for her to marry. Her original plans included attending art school. When she couldn't raise enough money to enroll, she trained to work as a hairdresser (maybe cutting Elvis doo's for Vegas preachers?). In her early twenties she was riding her beloved Harley-Davidson cross-country until she sold it to finance the recording of her first eight tracker in a makeshift studio she set up in her dad’s church. From there she headed south to Nashville and was discovered by her manager singing in a bar.

From Nashville she traveled across the ocean to London and showed enough grit and skill to be the first signing to new label Kensaltown Recordings. And the rest, as they say, is history. She's poised to release her debut 7" on January 21st, and here's the A-side from it, titled Devil's Flame. All text below in red is Dawn talking about the song. Read, listen, enjoy.

Dawn Kinnard - Devil's Flame : The Courtesy Fall
It's an invitation to the lonely, or people who feel as though they have been "brushed beneath the rug". Or people who demand answers and feel impatient. It's a song with open arms but requests responsibility for one's state of mind in contrast.

This is a tough one because it is quite a personal song and I want people to be able to take from it what they like. So, that being said, I hesitate to say too much. but here is one or two more thoughts...

Lyric from Devil's Flame:
"I've cut you some slack
I've done you a favor
I've tied your mind
and denied you a savior"
...This could be taken in two ways in my mind...I as the writer may not be trustworthy. And the song is about trust...


To be denied of a savior could feel good. (because) No one to check in with. No one to confess to. No accountability. An impossible nirvana? possibly, but you might be in danger of the Devil's Flame.


As stated previously, the song is the A-side of her debut 7" that will be coming out next month, with Fortune Teller (also from the upcoming album) on the flip side. The two tracks make a very diametric pair. Devil's Flame begins with an almost bombastic opening that's tight, tough, confrontational, and in your face. Fortune Teller is none of those things. It's smooth and luxuriously silky (and perhaps my favorite track from the album) and feels like it could be coming from Dawn's lips while she seductively drapes herself over a piano in a dark, smoky lounge.

Listening to Dawn's voice brings to mind small comparisons and connections to lots of other strong female vocalists, but her sound and style are very much her own. Her vocals are somewhat distinctive with her smoky yet smooth delivery that, at various points in the album, reminded me of such diverse artists as Janis Joplin (with her gravelly voice) and Billie Holiday (refer to Fortune Teller above). It almost feels as if Dawn's testing her limits, pushing boundaries to see which direction she wants to take her music. It's not just her voice that stands out here though; the music itself seems to span across genres. Listen to the both of these tracks to get a taste of the range, then keep your eyes open for the single and the entire album (titled The Courtesy Fall), which will be coming out in February.

Dawn Kinnard - Devil's Flame : The Courtesy Fall

Dawn Kinnard - Clear the Way : The Courtesy Fall

Visit her label Kensaltown Records and become her friend on MySpace.


Previous Sunday Spotlights : Marco Mahler and The Motion Sick

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