(Photo Credit: Kendall Bailey Atwater)
We were excited to get the opportunity to do an Advance Review of Daughter of Swords' new album Dawnbreaker. Daughter Of Swords is the solo project from Alexandra Sauser-Monnig of Mountain Man. Dawnbreaker drops June 28, 2019, check out our track by track review below!
Advance Review - Daughter of Swords - Dawnbreaker
"Fellows" starts the album off in the alt-folk genre. Sauser-Monnig shows some great vocal chops on the track, drifting effortlessly in and out of falsetto. The song seems to deal with themes of unrequited love, in this case the narrator being the one that doesn't reciprocate. But it very much discusses how alive the fellow made the narrator feel. "Gem" changes gears to a more alt-pop feel that still has some folk stylings. The chorus ups the tempo in a measured, but fantastic way. Thematically the song seems to touch on distance. It's beautifully descriptive of nature throughout. The song ends on the line "You were my abalone boy / The heart beat rhythm of your gold soul / Beating".
"Fields of Gold" heads back to the alt-folk genre, with less pop infusion. I absolutely love the finger picking of the guitar throughout. This song reminds me of a road song, almost like a long lost road story from Jack Kerouac. The melody has this feel too, with the leads playing with a slight twang. I absolutely love what this song is doing musically and lyrically the imagery painted with the lyrics is magnificent. "Shining Woman" again blends alt-folk and alt-pop effortlessly. This song again paints such a picture through Sauser-Monnig's lyrics, as she describes the woman on the motorcycle, who's life she's envious of, I can see her. I understand exactly the person she's speaking of, she does this through unique description and creative metaphor. I also want to take a quick second and mention the leads on this track are great in their alt-country goodness.
"Grasses" focuses primarily on Sauser-Monnig's vocals. This song also follows an unconventional writing structure similar to the previous songs. Sauser-Monnig isn't going to give you verse, chorus, verse, etc. Her style is less structured than that and I dig it. What's important to note is that you don't lose anything from traditional style songs with this structure, there's still build up, and momentum throughout. On "Easy is Hard", we're presented with an alt-country sound that I absolutely love. Sauser-Monnig's vocals are the strength here, as the melody is more reserved. There are some harmonies that play throughout that also help make the song feel fuller. Again, Sauser-Monnig is telling a story here, here it seems like one about someone walking out and the feeling you're left with. It's beautifully done.
"Rising Sun" has a melody under it that is essentially a 12 bar blues rhythm. Sauser-Monnig sings it a bit more bluegrass than blues, but the harmonica clearly give the indication of where she's heading. Thematically, "Rising Sun" seems to be about a narrator who is leaving someone and rediscovering how to love their self. It's a great blues diddy, especially if you're a fan of the genre like I am. "Long Leaf Pine" again gives Sauser-Monnig an opportunity to show off her dynamic vocal range as she flips her vocals to falsetto and back down at will.
"Human" takes back to the folk/alt-country genre. The song is about not being able to will love to life. It's told beautifully. "Dawnbreaker" ends the album in the alt-country genre. It's perhaps her most metaphorically ambitious track on the album, with Sauser-Monnig dreaming she was various aspects of nature. I absolutely loved the guitar in this one. It carried the melody throughout, it was fantastic when paired with the vocals.
Closing Thoughts - Sauser-Monnig is one of the most talented story tellers that I have come across in a long time. She masterfully describes the scenes in her songs so that you feel like you're there. You know exactly what leaf she is talking about or exactly the person she is speaking of. It's absolutely fantastic. Also, this first album by Daughter of Swords is able to bend genre at will, sometimes playing with folk, Americana, pop, blues, and alt-country. It makes for an impressive diversity of sound throughout the album. If you remotely consider yourself a fan of any of the aforementioned genres, you need to pick this one up immediately!
Rating - 4.5/5