Review – “Lullabies and Wake-Up Calls” – Dinah Thorpe

Dinah Thorpe Lullibies & Wake-up Callsreviewed by Michael Thomas

Lullabies and Wake-Up Calls is a very apt name for this album. And the album kicks as much ass as the superhero with whom Toronto-based musician Dinah Thorpe shares a first name.

As the album title might suggest, there are two types of songs. (Relatively) soft ones, and songs that will get in your face with uncomfortable truths. The split isn’t even, so this album will constantly keep you own your toes. In at least one case, a wake-up call is disguised as a lullaby.

Several things make Dinah Thorpe’s music so excellent. First is the control with which she plays her instruments. It’s as though she’s mapped out where everything fits for perfect use, and she’s meticulous. Perhaps a sprinkle of ukulele to start things off, but then maybe some sweet bass. Or some pulsing synths. All of these things instruments have a place in a few numbers here.

“Prospect” is the album opener but also a pretty good calling card for what to expect from Thorpe. Some ukulele, some whistling and Thorpe’s voice make the song at first sound like it’ll be delicate. But then comes the marching-band-style drums, and later some brief synth stints to change things up a lot.

But then there are songs like “Can I See What’s In Your Backpack,” a hip-hop number where Thorpe coolly slices into political and pop culture. Her truths are harsh but needed; “Morning Rush Hour in Cartown” gets to the heart of the pros and cons of being in a car versus being a cyclist (though it’s pretty clear which side she’s on) and “Time to Try” strikes at corporations who are slowly making their way into public schools. Then there’s “State of Things” whose breezy melody disguises a message about the wrong types of people being sent to jail.

And even after all of that, there’s still plenty to unpack, from a cappella beauty “Mining For Gold” to “Carsick,” whose cool bass line manages to somehow work in the classic song “Fever.” Oh yes, and she also mashes up a song of her called “Your Car is Not a Reindeer” with “This Little Light of Mine.”

This album is so deliciously twisted and is now available in both the U.S. and Canada, so you have no excuse now, North America. Get into this.

Top Tracks: “Prospect”; “Can I See What’s In Your Backpack”; “Milk the State (Revisited)

Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good) +*swoop*

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