"I love music. It’s as simple as that. It’s the one thing that I know
will bring joy to my life. And when I really feel connected to something
like that, it becomes my own personal dreamscape."
Austinite Elizabeth Donihoo’s album, "Dream", an apt name, relays
the feel that permeates throughout. "I like the idea of one word conjuring
up a whole world of meaning." The sounds are big and lush and the earthy,
yet haunting quality to her voice draws the listener in. And the lyrics
are deceptively simple, but resonate long afterwards.
Built on layers of airy textures, such as in "Don’t know why", and then
more fully orchestrated, pop driven sounds such as in "Secret" and
"Weave", Elizabeth’s music takes you "to another place", as she hints
in "Secret". Evocative descriptions of other-wordly realms, such as in
the title track "Dream", have a definite transcendent quality.
Elizabeth refers to her music as "moody pop-rock",but the term moody
doesn’t necessarily mean melancholy; the music is more mood-evoking…
be it loving, reminiscent or dreamy."
As a Houston native growing up in Sacramento, Calif., Elizabeth’s love
of music was nurtured by her older brothers. She was particularly
captivated by Jethro Tull and George Harrison, and anything organic.
Elizabeth strives to create an organic feel in her own music as well.
Other heroes include Jeff Buckley, Beck, Peter Gabriel and Chris Whitley.
"Why Jeff Buckley? I first saw him at an in-store performance. I was
completely awe-stricken. The sounds that were coming out of him…
really, the most beautiful voice ever. What a soul." And then there are
those who speak to her. "Beck, who I simply adore. Okay, you got
me. I admit it. Melancholy is good; it’s what makes you real. Peter
Gabriel, my soul mate. Chris Whitley – no words."
Of course, Austin’s music scene has served as an inspiration, too. (Like
so many others, Elizabeth came to town to get a degree – hers is in
psychology – and stayed.) A roster of some of the city’s best helped
fuel her creativity on "Dream," her first full-length effort. The guitar
textures were contributed by Cole Hanson, whose style carries reminders
of Johnny Marr and the Edge – a mix of gentle meanderings and
effervescent runs. Keyboardist Derek Morris (Bob Schneider); bassists
Jake Blackwell (Honeybrowne), George Reiff (Charlie Sexton, Billy Harvey)
and Ronnie Johnson (James McMurtry); drummer Kevin Pearson (Gnappy);
and singer-songwriter Darin Murphy are also heard.
Elizabeth worked with Austin producer and local pop guru Lars Gorannson.
"Working with Lars was always interesting. His mind is constantly in that
creative vortex. He's also got this unmistakable sense of humor – full
of Larsisms. Anyone who works with him is in for a real experience. And he's
worked with some really great bands (Cardigans, Endochine, the Real Heroes)."
Mark Younger-Smith Younger-Smith of Mixture Studio (Austin) did further
production work and mixed the album. Younger-Smith was previously Billy
Idol’s guitarist, co-writer and co-producer. Mark’s approach
matched my vision – big, lush, orchestrated sounds. This, mixed with
Lars’ pop sensibility, was the perfect blend."
The result is a multi-layered effort that’s very personal, and conveys
Elizabeth’s message throughout – the desire to connect with another.
"The songs are about love, of course, the broken heart and the downfalls
that I’ve encountered," she adds, but they’re also about the other side
of it – how to transcend those places. And there’s always this sort of
romantic element as far as meeting the other in that realm, and really
being able to have that deep, heartfelt conversation that only two people
can have in that space."
photo | jen white
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