Dawn Kinnard, The Serpentine Sessions | New music reviews, news & interviews
Dawn Kinnard, The Serpentine Sessions
Pennsylvanian preacher's daughter fights to get noticed at disappointing Serpentine Sessions
On the face of it, comparisons could be drawn between Dawn Kinnard and fellow preacher’s-offspring-cum-country-singer, Diane Birch. Except Birch’s music comes from every musical advantage, whereas Kinnard still has a day-job as a hairdresser. Moreover, her voice remains totally unproduced - a glorious mix of Tom Waits and Marge Simpson. This summer, for the second time in three years, she has put her savings on the line to try to make it here.
Last time round, Kinnard, then staying chez Cerys Matthews, enjoyed a barnstorming session on Later with Jools Holland. Last night things looked a little more threadbare. The Serpentine Session's so-called bandstand stage turned out to be barely a gazebo, opposite the bar and next to a Mexican food stall. With characteristic impeccable American manners Kinnard delt with it with grace. Still, I doubt any number of gigs in Southern sports bars could have really prepared her for coming on to the sound of munched nachos and folding deck-chairs.
She played seven tracks, all from the new album. There was no full band or New Orleans-style brass section, like on the new album - just Kinnard plus guitar, a bass and a drum kit. “Death is a Shark” and “Are You Still crazy About Yourself?” seemed to have a dark sultry jazz feeling. “Japan” was a strange and ghostly song about love and belonging and leaving, and “The Queen of the World” a light and ironically triumphant take on love. But the best songs were “Bicycle”, which had a fevered quality, “Favourite Ghost” a straight country lament, and “The Cost of Love” which beautifully oscillated between sorrow and forgetfulness.
Kinnard started off looking bemused staring out at an audience mainly comprised of event photographers, but her confidence picked up. By the time she was into “Bicycle” and “The Cost of Love” she was back to her trademark “Elvis shaking legs” and screwed-up eyes. And afterwards, she thanked those of us who'd listened with a sincere smile, lit up a cigarette and strolled over to watch Patti Smith.
Still, what were the event organisers thinking of? It’s obvious that the Serpentine Sessions was created as a way of capitalising on unused festival space in the hiatus between the Hard Rock Calling and Wireless festivals, but given the line-up – it reads like a warm up to the alternative folk-rock of the Latitude festival – how did they end up using for one stage a tent so large that it will surely terrify Laura Marling this Thursday (pictured left), and for the second stage a small pagoda in the corner of a beer-garden-cum- food-court. And all around lying empty are medium-sized marquees of the sort of size most of the crowd presumably had in mind when they bought their tickets.
For those who would like to see Kinnard in a more appropriate environment, she has just announced a showcase of her new album this Monday at the Borderline.
Watch Dawn Kinnard perform "One Little Step Away" on Later with Jools Holland
Subscribe to theartsdesk.com
Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.
To take an annual subscription now simply click here.
And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?
more New music
Japanese jazz-fusion to blow the cobwebs away
New Wave veterans add Country and Western vibes and come up smiling
Bright lights and the shadow of The Beatles at Germany’s prime showcase for new music
Despite the band credit, the classic ‘Now That Everything’s Been Said’ is Carole King’s first solo album
The troubled troubadour returns with a superb album that dances through desperation
Stadium synth bombast that has to be heard to be believed
The return of the erstwhile King of the Slackers, Evan Dando
Diverse and supposedly autobiographical songs end up sounding too similar
Jonathan Donahue and Grasshopper talk beginnings, cassettes and hiss
He used to 'torture' maidens on stage, but what is Blackie Lawless up to now?
A new beginning and declaration of rights from Sweden’s sonic voyagers
Albums two, three and four reveal different facets of the fast-moving Scots guitar whizz