mon 20/09/2021

Album: Dot Allison - Heart-Shaped Scars | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Dot Allison - Heart-Shaped Scars

Album: Dot Allison - Heart-Shaped Scars

28 years on from One Dove, the Scottish singer-songwriter finds herself

Scottish singer-songwriter Dorothy Allison pretty much defines cool. Her band One Dove was the first to snare Andrew Weatherall as producer after his success with Screamadelica, and together they created Morning Dove White: an extraordinary album that fused country and western melancholy with deep dub and electronica.

It brought extraordinarily grown up emotion to the rave generation and creating the archetypal comedown soundtrack to the devoted few who loved it.

Since then she’s worked with everyone from Massive Attack to Paul Weller, Death In Vegas to Pete Doherty (he used to be talented and interesting, honestly) – but with only six albums in the 28 years since One Dove’s debut and only LP, her own presence has been elusive, skirting around the edges of the limelight. 

Her seventh album, paradoxically, feels like the most she’s put herself at the centre of things yet, yet is scarcely there. Verses feel like they’re emerging from then disappearing into mist as they pass by, instrumentation is so delicate as to feel like drops of water, and Allison’s voice – always tending to the pure, but occasionally on previous records rising to a haunting wail – is so soft as to feel almost textureless. And it is absolutely, rivetingly magical. Where previously her records sounded like explorations of styles, feeling out indie rock, krautrock, electronica, trip hop and so on for places where she might fit – often hitting the spot, but never completely – this feels 100% like she has found her sound. 

You could find many reference points if you wanted. The psychedelic folk of Vashti Bunyan and Linda Perhacs seems the most obvious, but you might also spot old doo-wop, the easy-listening perfection of The Carpenters, a bit of David Lynch soundtrack, some sublimated Motown. But really as you listen, as it washes over you, it’s hard to hear anything but a single coherent vision: Allison’s voice and songwriting, and gentle acoustic guitar and piano meshing with the rarefied string arrangements of Hannah Peel. It reaches a crescendo in the penultimate song “Love Died in our Arms” – still velvet smooth, but the only track where it really feels like the soundfield is full – and at this moment you realise how much the previous songs have been sneaking into your soul... and immediately want to go back and hear it all again.

@joemuggs

Listen to "Can you Hear Nature Sing":

Where previously her records sounded like explorations of styles, this feels 100% like she has found her sound

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Editor Rating: 
5
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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