reviewed by Michael Thomas
We Canadians can be a gloomy bunch, be it about the weather or our various sports franchises. “Gloomy” may also be the way to describe Danielle Fricke’s music, at least at first listen—and of course there’s nothing wrong with that. Listen to the gentle, guitar-driven title track and you won’t miss its eerie, stark beauty.
But a funny thing happens as Moon goes on. By the end, it appears that Fricke is digging out from under the grey. Songs like “Maisy” and “Rabbit” build into confident, swelling songs that finally say goodbye to feeling sad.
Musically, Fricke’s music is closest to that of Toronto’s Anamai. Both projects dwell in darkness, with gorgeous songs based in folk but heading towards other genres. Fricke, however, has some electronic influence (no doubt thanks to her previous involvement in London, Ont.’s Snow Mantled Love). Opener “Tenterhooks” gives a pretty clear idea of the dreamlike experience you’re in for, with its swelling synths and gentle electric guitar. The aforementioned “Moon” brings Fricke’s vocals more into the forefront, really adding a chill to her lunar metaphors.
It also becomes clear fairly quickly that Fricke will never do the same thing twice. “Yours Till the Ocean” is a fully electronic journey, with sounds at one point mimicking the sounds of water, while “Mourning Dove” draws out each picked guitar note to join Fricke’s layered vocals in a truly angelic piece.
Along the way to the end, Fricke mines some emotional depths. Previous single “The Well” is still a standout, as the gloomy guitar makes Fricke’s urgent vocals all the more surprising. “Heirloom” may fill you with memories of the past, with its staccato music-box-sounding notes and breathy, barely-there vocals.
Meanwhile, “Dizzy” pulls off quite the trick as it goes along, with a repeated phrase and guitar line swirling around to create an actual illusion of dizziness. “Maisy” wastes no time in being loud right from the get-go; loud droning and epic guitar is a wonderful catharsis after a ghostly, haunting listen.
It makes a lot of sense that Fricke first made an impression on me with a gorgeous Christmas EP about a year ago. Moon carries that same kind of wonderful warmth.
Top Tracks: “The Well”; “Mourning Dove”; “Maisy”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)