Jenny Dalton - Rusalka’s Umbrella
Record Label: Glossy Shoebox Productions
Release Date: September 2008
The symphonic lox and ethereal fabric of Jenny Dalton’s music is stuff that dreams are made of, and the stuff that you will find has materialized in her latest release, Rusalka’s Umbrella. Released on her own record label, Glossy Shoebox Productions, the Minnesota nymph has been quite busy since the release of her debut record, Fleur de Lily in 2006. In 2007, a few tracks from Fleur de Lily were remixed for a compilation disc that featured other ambient-pop artists for Carbon Lily Remixes. Dalton acquired a reputation for creating conceptual songs from the abstract thoughts and figurative images in her mind. She has been compared to the avant-pop artist Kate Bush, the ethereal folk songstress Loreena McKinnit, and an angelic voicing liken to Kate Havnevik. In 2008, Jenny Dalton still has everything that critics have claimed she possessed in the past.
Dalton’s latest release, Rusalka’s Umbrella has delicate atmospherics and an ambient beauty liken to Hem. Dalton explains in her press kit that “Rusalka is a water spirit, the spirit of a young woman banished to the water where she plays along the banks at night and lures the curious into her depths. The Rusalka represents the dichotomies we have lodged into the fabric of ourselves.” She expresses that the Rusalka, like people, struggle with their self-image, first seeing a paragon of beauty and then seeing all the flaws, feeling pretty and ugly, smart and dumb, graceful and clumsy, strong and weak, confident and doubtful. These polarities were the catalyst for the songs, and the songs inspired Dalton to write a book of poetry entitled Daughters of the Dead Sea. The book and the album are a private journey for Jenny Dalton who believes that there are others like her going on the same journey.
Dalton is a practitioner of ambient-folk, but she does vary her ambient registers from a country slant in “The Turn and the River” to orchestral curls and maudlin fringes in “Married to the Sea” to a circus fair in “Alionushka” and a soothing piano-centric melody in the title track. The songs are like a consortium of instruments where each plays their own thought patterns but when they come together, everything is done in unison. The mellow undulations in the piano lifts of “So Says I” move like a love sonnet, and the lush melodic landscapes of “The Fall” are a vision of rolling hills, cascading brooks, and fluttering reefs. Slowly rising chord series build up into stirring flourishes in “Ladies and Gentlemen” and “Bad Seed” adorning the melodies with low rumbling bass drums and stylish string silhouettes.
The sonic knolls traipsing along “Snow Mazes of Norway” trickle gingerly, while the build up in the melodic density in songs like “Puddle Jump” and “Merry Go Around” quicken the tempo and then releases into a relaxing coast. The tribal beats of “Looted Fires” flow in and out of the frames while engulfed in dewy sonic cloud clusters. The movements embody the melodious motions of a ballerina, and Dalton’s vocals capture the storyline like in “Dear Paul” when she recites, “Dear Paul / I am writing / Wondering how you have been / Dear Paul / I’ve been reading / I fear I’m reading too much into this / So give me something more / Give me something strong / Give me something I can believe in.”
Jenny Dalton’s latest release, Rusalka’s Umbrella satisfies that segment in people’s lives which crave for ambient-folk. Dalton is not alone in her journey and she is quite optimistic that it has a happy ending. Though she believes that she must traverse through many days of maudlin and disappointment before she can arrive at her destination.