“How I Knew Her” by Nataly Dawn

One half of indie folk duo Pomplamoose, Nataly Dawn has had quite the success over the past three years. With her voice gracing a national Toyota commercial, appearing on NPR’s All Things Considered, and lending her talents to a Barry Manilow track, Dawn announced a solo-effort in 2011. The album financed by a KIckstarter campaign with an initial goal of $20,000 far surpassed expectations and raised over $100,000. Two years and twelve tracks later, How I Knew Her was released.

With an angelic and dream-like voice, and a sound similar to sibling quartet, Eisley, Nataly Dawn tells uses her colorful imagination to tell stories of personal relationships, thoughts and overall outlook on life. The first track, “Araceli”, is a folksy, cheery telling of faux Greek mythology. The song is almost a quirky musical version of Homer’s Iliad. “Leslie”, a sweet and pretty upbeat track, is juxtaposed by introspective lyrics like “Shaking off bad luck of babies’ dreams that never left the womb.” Dawn also sings of the realization of the mortality we humans have, and that the innocence of childhood is something to hold on to as it will flash before your eyes as “life wears you down and takes you for a run.”

“How I Knew Her,” possibly the most poignant song on the entire album, tells a revealing personal story of a strained familial relationship that ends with a tragic ending. Autobiographical lyrics like “But now no one can say what it meant what to see your Daddy die under that tractor on that black hill,” displays the less visible and darker side of the seemingly bright musician. With instrumentals that sound influenced by the traditional music out of Eastern Europe, “Back to the Barracks,” describes a rocky relationship that once was happy, now conflicted ridden with each party tired from engaging in a battle where no victor can emerge. Longing to go back to better times, no longer wanting to “tip-toe,” the lovers go “back to the barracks wondering if there could be better days ahead.”

“Long Running Joke,” revealing possibly some inner turmoil and discord, interestingly blends seamlessly with satirical lyrics like “blaming it on flesh eating monsters or yourself.”  As seen in other songs on HINH, mention of ‘God,’ ‘Jesus’ and other religiously connected vocabulary, it appears that Dawn is commenting on faith and religion, unsure of how she wants to interact with it, if at all. “Counting Down,” a lovesick song with lyrics like “When you’re away, I know the day won’t mean that much,” perfectly marries Dawn’s soft breathy voice with soft acoustic guitar and strings.

A catchy, rhythmic toe tapping and head bobbing track “Caroline,” tells a colorful story of a young woman whose life is less than idyllic but Dawn thinks shouldn’t “change a thing.” A musical ode to man’s best friend, “Please Don’t Scream” full of whimsical and imaginative lyrics like “Sure you were cute and full of tricks and a whole lot brighter than a guinea pig,” paints a picture of an imperfect relationship with a mouthy pet that despite their conflict, is Dawn’s “oldest friend.”

The closing track, “I Just Wanted You to Get Old,” ends HINH with a slow melodic lullaby that asks for forgiveness from a loved one who has passed and reminisces of the memories they made together. A truly thoughtful and imaginative songwriter, Nataly Dawn’s first solo effort How I Knew Her, is a delightfully mesmerizing record sure to make anyone who listens to it a fan.  Fresh off a tour with Ben Folds Five, Dawn will embark on a three-week, 14-city North American headlining tour, featuring music from the album. The tour begins March 18, at The Walnut Room in Denver, Colorado and ends April 7, in Austin.

By Lesley Rozycki

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