Through four full-length albums, Dawn Landes has blazed her own path with songs that are as fresh as they are timeless. Still, there’s no mistaking that strains of Nashville reside in her voice and in her musical soul, and now, with her fifth album, Landes is finally bringing them to center stage.
“Meet Me At The River” is Landes’ self-described “Nashville record,” and she has assured its pedigree by enlisting the production skills of Fred Foster, the Country Music Hall of Fame member who played a pivotal role in the careers of Dolly Parton, Roy Orbison, and Kris Kristofferson.
Two years ago, Landes reached out to Foster, and a four-hour visit to his Nashville home convinced both they were musical kindred spirits. With roots in both Louisville, Kentucky, and Branson, Missouri, Landes has been attracting ardent fans and critical acclaim since entering New York’s music scene in 2000. Along the way, she has collaborated with such contemporaries as Sufjan Stevens, Justin Townes Earle, and Norah Jones, creating music for albums, movies, and television that crosses folk, rock, and alternative genres.
To develop the album together, Landes and Foster underwent a months-long process of what Foster calls “wood-shedding” – hours of listening to music, discussing ideas, and finetuning lyrics.
Ten songs written or co-written by Landes made the cut, offering a range of musical moods and attitudes. “How to Say ‘I Love You’” and “I Don’t Dance” (a duet with Country Music Hall of Famer Bobby Bare) show off Landes’ light touch with melody and lyrics, while “Wind and Rain” and “Southern Girl” are searing testimonies to heartbreak. Landes takes inspiration from classic country themes with “Why They Name Whiskey After Men,” “Traveling,” and “Old Memories.” For the title track, “Meet Me at the River,” Landes expresses wistful longings; she takes on eternal questions with the simple, and simply exquisite, “What Will I Do?” With “Keep on Moving,” she embraces the tradition of music as political expression. Rounding out the album are two songs written by Jimmy Driftwood, the late American folk singer-songwriter and activist whom Foster produced in the 1960s.
Foster and sound engineer Kyle Lehning oversaw the two series of recording sessions, held six months apart, and drew in the cream of Nashville’s studio musicians to collaborate. The result is an album that brims with Nashville authenticity, while at the same time shining the spotlight on Landes’ own authentic voice.
Originally determined to simply make a “Nashville record,” Landes has since moved to the city and become a part of its music scene. She’s now eager to share the new album, “Meet Me at the River”.