Combining simmering blues-rock, gutsy folk and some intrepid, astonishing harmonies, Dyson Stringer Cloher – the project of Mia Dyson, Liz Stringer and Jen Cloher – blooms out into the act’s first full-length this month.
The very opening track, Falling Clouds, sees Cloher reminisce about an underage gig she saw in the ’90s, celebrating Falling Joys and The Clouds and the fact they “kicked the door wide open” so that Cloher “could walk onto that stage.” She doesn’t couch any of her thanks or frustrations in euphemism or oblique symbols, and bandmate Liz Stringer says the sentiments are some that she and Mia Dyson identify with closely. “Jen has such a unique ability to move across different styles, lyrically,” she says. “Sometimes she uses a cinematic and poetic approach, and then she can swap effortlessly to lyrics that are biting and direct in their impact.”
As the album took shape, it became clear Falling Clouds would be an apt introduction to the album: “It’s so direct, hooky, and has these tight three-part harmonies,” Stringer says, “and we’re also pumped that Jodi Phills of The Clouds, who Jen directly references in the song as being a pivotal early role-model, is going to be opening the shows for us on our launch tour in November. That’s the best.”
The harmonies across the album are totally arresting, and Stringer says they were a very conscious focus for the record: “[We] worked hard in pre-production and rehearsal, nutting out parts and making sure we were nailing them,” she says of the gorgeous vocal arrangements in tracks like Can’t Take Back and Can I Borrow Your Eyes.
The overlapping melodies and rhythms in With My Hands came, she says, from the mind of Dyson. “It was actually a hilarious brain-bender trying to get them right, but it was such an awesome idea, and the song is so killer, we persevered until we nailed it! From memory we used hand-clapping a lot, and there was a lot of me staring at Jen in a creepily concentrated way to try and get it right!”
One of the album’s undeniable standouts is Too Seriously – a twanging little jewel which gives some neat advice to the younger generation of women growing up around the world. “That’s me playing the piano,” Stringer says of the honky-tonk keys which boogie their way over the track. “There were so many amazing instruments in [studio] The Loft, and it was a case of, ‘We want piano on this – which EXACT kind of piano sound do we want?’ And there it was, at our disposal. So. Much. FUN. Too Seriously is a song I wrote last year and had filed away until I brought it to Jen and Mia pretty late in the piece as a potential for DSC,” she explains, adding that her earlier hesitancy about stylistic incongruence fluttered away when she saw the record was going to leap around genres. “The chorus harmonies came out so well, and the core sentiment of the song – which is, ‘I can’t be f-cked caring about what other people think of me anymore’ – is something that I feel the three of us all relate to at this point in our respective lives!”
Dyson Stringer Cloher by Dyson Stringer Cloher is out October 4 via Milk!/Remote Control.
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