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Dawn Kinnard 

Saturday, January 24; Frederick's Music Lounge

If Jay Farrar had a sister in the music business, she'd probably sound a lot like Dawn Kinnard, whose eponymous release on Rusted Rose shines brighter than those of most of her peers in the alt-country pack. Kinnard's music is a sleepy blend of gothic folk and country that calls to mind the junk sickness of Mazzy Star while avoiding that queasy, underwater feeling. It's dark stuff, but hopeful. Her hesitant alto's smokiness is palpable -- a crackling knife-slash at your heartstrings that suggests a plummet to the depths of sadness won't be so bad.

The album was recorded in Kinnard's father's Baptist church in Pennsylvania, and producer/collaborator Mason Neely's psychedelic-pop touch was perfect for bringing texture and lavish detail to the proceedings. His masterful arrangements include lap-steel guitar, banjo, Wurlitzer organ and the unlikely vibraphone to create a refreshingly different take on the alt-country sound. One can only hope that Kinnard has opted to augment her touring ensemble with a few of these instruments.

Much of the material on the release owes its existence to Kinnard's beloved Harley-Davidson. It was during solo, cross-country jaunts on her motorcycle that she was inspired by the freedom and isolation of the open road and wrote a great deal of her songs, and every mile of black asphalt comes through the material. In the end, Kinnard reluctantly decided to sell the bike to fund the production of the record. How's that for being devoted to your music?

Frederick's Music Lounge is the perfect setting for Kinnard's sad, eccentric alt-country, and it'll be a real treat to hear her sexy, sad, soulful voice in person. She'll have CDs for sale, and every one you purchase will get her that much closer to a new Hog.

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