It took a decade for New York’s Dorothea Tachler to begin her solo career after serving time in various bands. On the evidence of her latest album ‘Tomorrow’s Far Away’ she definitely put the time to good use with no less than fourteen instruments (amongst them harmonium, kalimba, taishōgoto (a Japanese harp), violin and steel drums) all credited to her, not to mention her own soothing yet rather subdued vocals. One can only assume she brought in other collaborators simply because she ran out of hands to play everything.
So, to the music then. ‘Flight Of The Pterodactyl’ begins like a fragile, rather forlorn little song but, by its elongated coda, the track has become awash with strings, crunching percussion and kitchen sink production. It may be the first track on the album but it has the sense of a finale as Tachler and her various contributors sound like they exerted their last efforts to complete it. What comes in between is rather shy and timid in comparison. Next comes the morose title track which is enlivened by Andreas Nick Horn’s impressively crisp drumming but it’s the first of many moments where you wonder whether Tachler is too shy a performer to really stamp her authority on the otherwise lovingly-arranged material.
When Tachler comes out of her shell she begins to show her true talents. ‘Even When I’m Alone’ may have a fairly modest set-up with just Tachler and a marimba but here her close-mic delivery and gorgeously sad melody really plucks at the heart strings. Likewise, on the surface ‘A Little While’ consists of little more than harp and Tachler’s sighs of despair but it’s a key moment at the centre of the record. She even tries her hand at Country and Western with the ukulele-assisted ‘El Sereno’. Finally, the real last track turns out to be a highlight too thanks to ‘Not By Now’ and its spellbinding ghostly folk.
Sometimes it’s apparent that Tachler is still coming to terms with performing alone as several of these songs lack the confidence of a solo artist. However, her virtuoso talents can certainly not be disputed and there are plenty of examples here which suggest that moving away from the band experience to perform this kind of wistful, dreamy folk music was the right idea after all.
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