Secret Meeting score: 84
by Philip Moss
Break up albums are usually filled with pain, regret and even a slice of anger. But this debut offering from Alexandra Sauser-Monnig aka Daughter of Swords is different. Instead, it documents the period prior to the dissipation of her relationship and places its focus on an impending feeling of liberation.
Despite this, the record opens with its most downbeat moment – Fellow looks back to a chance encounter with a man who was ‘wild and shy’, but with whom the Vermont native found the love could not be reciprocated. And while this may begin her story – and search for freedom – musically its fuzzy four track ramblings are not representative of the record as a whole.
At no point is the record what you’d call lush – in fact, there’s a real beauty in Sauser-Monnig and producer, Nick Sanborn’s use of drum machines, toy keyboards and lo-fi acoustic guitars. A fine example is the most aptly named song of the year, Gem – a shining ray of sunshine folk where, wrapped up in its gloriously chirpy melody, she lays out yet more aching wants from life.
Grasses captures further desires, and is the closest the record ventures towards her harmony-centric work with Mountain Man. The most blatant example of the life Sauser-Monnig craves is exemplified on the addictive refrain of Shining Woman – as she declares her lust for independence once her relationship comes to a controlled conclusion. While the effortless country pop of Easy – which makes up the centrepiece of the record, but actually marks the conclusion of the narrative arc – is the most straight forward and sweetly seductive melody on what is a wondrous debut record.
Simply put – Dawnbreaker is a beautiful record. So what are you waiting for? Go and get lost in its majesty.