Dear Reader – Day Fever (City Slang)
CD / DL
Dear Reader’s first new album in four years, and one where she “accepts imperfection as part of what makes good, honest music.” Both painful and pretty, City Slang call it “the most naked thing Dear Reader has ever made” and Cherilyn sings “It is our noblest endeavor / to improve on the past.” Which she has, agrees Philip McCarthy.
Although relatively new to me Dear Reader, in essence singer songwriter Cherilyn MacNeil, has been around since 2008. Originally based in Johannesburg she has produced four albums. Her base is now in Berlin.
I do not like reducing music down to gender but I have noticed more and more of the individual, original music is being created by female artists Jenny Hyval, Holly Hebden , Chelsea Wolfe etc. Cherilyn is not ‘the same’ as them but she slots right in to the imaginative atmospheric mode.
Another attraction of this album is the array of themes for each song. Oh, The Sky is about her personal feelings on a revisit to South Africa. So Petty, So Pathetic is about her reaction (or lack of it ) to harassment of a homeless man.
Although some of her songs have an tinge of politics within them as you would expect from her background some of them are more personal for example. Placate Her which covers her feelings of self love/self loathing although in this self obsessed society we live in that could well be considered political.
To add to the global nature of the album it was recorded in San Francisco with the help of analogue producer John Vanderslice. The production is sublime but at the same time the analogue “no margin for error” makes the album feel very natural.
The arrangements are quite intricate but as far as I can see again all backing instrumentation is traditional clarinet, horns, drums. There appear minimal traces of synth sound but that could well be the producers work. Another major mark of the album is the choral style vocals not a production trick but a group of singers recording in one take.
Some of this will make it sound like a complicated album to listen to. It isn’t. Its a very personal work of light and dark and an atmospheric piece to immerse yourself into.
Day Fever is an old fashioned term for Hysteria. I cannot wait for her next album bearing in mind the events of the past 12 months, but for now, this is an inspirational album.
City Slang website
Dear Reader website
All words by Philip McCarthy whose author profile is here.