Gig review: Dawn Landes


"WE PROBABLY have as many beers backstage as there are people here," noted Kentucky girl Dawn Landes. Clearly she isn't scared of playing a gig which might best be described as intimate – always a pleasing trait in a performer. In return for such enduring good cheer, the couple of dozen fans in attendance greeted her with real warmth and appreciation.

The hope is, though, that she might quickly achieve at least the same level of cult success in the UK as that enjoyed by her husband, Josh Ritter. Like Ritter, Landes is a roots and country artist who knows how to turn in a spine-tingling traditional, but also how to step wonderfully off-radar. Here, in high-waisted jeans and a red gingham shirt, she looked like Karen Carpenter in healthier times.

Some stunning balladry was to be found in You Alone ("you belong in poetry / you belong in fine things") and in Twilight, the latter accompanied by Ray Rizzo's tenderly shuffling drums and Josh Kaufman's delicate slide guitar.

Landes's voice is crisp and clear, but there's a reediness to it which suggested a certain fragility on the slow songs and gave the impression she was about to crack up during The Picture Show and the bluegrass rich Sweetheart of the Rodeo (no relation to the Byrds song).

Graceful, playful, charming and just a little bit manic, this is an artist who offers plenty to even the smallest of crowds.