For Dolly Vardens new album, Forgiven Now, the band came to another creative peak. Especially evident is Dianes blossoming songwriting talent, and the growing strength of a band now in its seventh year of making music together. This is truly a full-band effort. All five musicians voices can be heard intertwined in the albums layered production. In addition, pedal steel legend Al Perkins makes a guest appearance on Christiansens hypnotic The Lotus Hour and on Dawsons George Jones/Tammy Wynette-inspired country shuffle, Theres A Magic. Discussing the album Dawson says, when we lined these songs up back to back there seemed to be a common link...so many of them seemed to be about leaving behind resentments, trying to see a bigger picture. Thats where the title comes from.
Dolly Varden, the Chicago band named for a hard-to-catch trout, returns for its fourth album with a hypnotic set of songs about resentment and anger, and the importance of leaving both behind. The singing-songwriting team of Stephen Dawson and Diane Christiansen, husband and wife in private life, lace every song with tuneful anguish and provide plenty of vivid imagery to illustrate their emotions. "Bone white faces I recall barking out advice," Dawson sings in "Forgiven Now," later serving up a fine, surreal take on a visitation of Jesus on "Overwhelming." They interrupt their intelligent pop amalgam for an overtly honky-tonk shuffle on "There's a Magic," where, actually, aside from Al Perkins's pedal steel guitar work, there isn't much. But they quickly launch back into poetic dreaminess, particularly on "1,000 Men Like Cigarettes," a meditation on loneliness and promiscuity that's weird--and enticing--enough for David Lynch. No further explanation about the trout, but by album's end, you'll be thoroughly hooked all the same. --Alanna Nash