Laura Cortese & The Dance Cards
Deceptively Edgy Lo-Fi Enhanced Alt. Country-Folk.
Without boring you with Laura Cortese’s musical history and the who’s who of Americana bands and singers she has performed alongside it’s safe to say she doesn’t need this band to make a living; but then again The Dance Cards aren’t a vanity project by any stretch of the imagination……this young lady has talent aplenty and with her songwriting……something to say too, as her previous 7 albums will prove.
A moody banjo followed by a haunting cello introduces first track Lo Hum; and when Laura and the Dance Cards harmonise on the initial verse and chorus all of my pre-conceptions flew right out of the office window.
Mmm…..mmmm…..and indeed MMMMM! Some days I need raucous Rock & Roll, other days moody Blues and yesterday, even though I didn’t know it…..it was something beautiful and ethereal, and this bonny song ticked every single box.
The title track CALIFORNIA CALLING follows; and it turns a completely different corner; subtly combining a sub-Gothic Lo-Fi back-beat and harmonies with vocals and a story that sound like the Handsome Family filtered through the Mamas and Papas……quirky – yes, but deep and poetic too.
That sentiment probably sums up several songs here…..it’s Alt. Country I suppose; but way left of centre.
Perhaps it’s the instrumentation used that makes this group stand out from the crowd; a fiddle and acoustic guitars go without saying; but a synth bass? glass harmonica? cello? a marimba? as well as five different types of keyboards plus…..a toy piano!
Or it could be Laura Cortese’s unique and crystal clear singing voice as well as the Dance Cards astonishing choir like harmonies…..or more than likely it’s all of those things that supplement lovely songs like Hold On, Rhododendron or the latest single Pace Myself with it’s distinctly ‘other worldly’ sensibilities and hypnotic hand claps.
Then of course there is the joyous Stockholm which is my favourite track here. I only use ‘joyous’ in comparison to the rest of the album; because it’s not your traditional ‘joyous’ but the band somehow manage to capture that fantastic city’s aura and clean cut visual aspects in three and a half minutes of musical magic.
With that song fresh still spinning on the turntable,it dawned on me that there is a Canadian, or more likely Northern European ‘freshness’ to the sound Laura Cortese & The Dance Cards deliver here……CALIFORNIA CALLING isn’t necessarily ‘easy listening,’ but if you are into bands like the Cowboy Junkies, Sparklehorse or perhaps Liz Phair and Elliott Smith then you will love Laura Cortese & The Dance Cards.
Released October 6th 2017