A coffee shop without a singer-songwriter is like a coffee shop without coffee. The genre tends to rely on the coffee shop just as the coffee shop tends to rely on the genre.
It has become almost customary to hear in the background, as you order your latté, a strummed guitar and a crooner laying it all out on the table-either hoping to be the next Dylan or just…well…hoping. A singer-songwriter is nothing if not for the emotion they pour into their songs. There are no gimmicks or tricks to keep the attention off the lyrics. They are the intended focus.
To stand out in this pool, is not easy.
On Dawn Iulg’s album The Waking Hours we learn she is talented enough to stand out. And we learn a lot about the story teller through the characters we meet along the way.
On the opening track “Quake” Iulg ties a sweet melody to the tormented lyrics, “I wanna shake you, I wanna shake you/I wanna shake you/For your mistakes”. The organ in the song begins the distress. But it is the words that stick with you and not just for their melody. You are commited…tied to the character. Temptation creeps in as she takes her final sip of wine and we are left wondering for an outcome. Her story is weaved well.
On “Sinking Stones” Iulg continues on this path. She channels some of her influences into a country tinged tune that’s bass line is the first thing to catch your ear. The song continues along the tortured path that “Quake” began. It will bring to mind a few Lucinda Williams tunes, but by no means is it theft. Iulg keeps her influences at a distance, making them quite simply, influences.
The highlight of the record is the final track “Farther On”. If it were possible, your back button on your iPod or CD player could get worn out. It is a song with a simple plucked acoustic guitar that brings to mind a young Sinead O’Connor and easily chokes up the listener. “Farther on we’ll find the answers” she sings with ardor. And with the conclusion of the too brief six-song EP you are left with nothing but the repeat button and the hope that Dawn Iulg will play your neighborhood coffee shop soon.