24 January 2007

Dayna Kurtz: Texture, no Structure

This is a bit of a shame. Dayna Kurtz and Another Black Feather came with mad impressive accolades: "there's no logical reason why singer-songwriter Dayna Kurtz is not a full-blown star," according to the Boston Globe; she's won "Female Songwriter of the Year" from the National Academy of Songwriters, been on NPR's Morning Edition. And yet. . . I think she suffers from the Cassandra Wilson problem: it's interesting, creative music that somehow fails to compel me to listen to it. This verdict always leaves me wondering if one or five more times through the CD wouldn't change my mind; since that question can always be asked, I've never managed to answer it by other than giving up. She's clearly technically accomplished, her voice has an enviable topaz-smoky timbre, and the arrangement and production are thoughtful and unobtrusive; but somehow listening to a track like The Miracle leaves rather a blank impression. The only exception to this is It's the Day of Atonement, with its graceful urgency contrasting with and coarsened by the blunt, political lyrics. The album leaves the listener with questions: what could she be that she isn't? What isn't she? What will she be?

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