Dn'A - Headin' Home
2010, Stone Face Records
2010, Stone Face Records
Austin, Texas is the home of husband & duo Donnie Herrera and Ashley Glover, otherwise known as Dn'A. Glover grew up in Oklahoma, singing in her father's bluegrass gospel band and going on to study vocal performance in college. Herrera, from New Mexico, discovered the guitar early on, becoming an accomplished axe man and composer. Blending their music and their lives together, Dn'A is a powerful force in minimalist country/folk. Their debut album, Headin' Home, is a stripped down affair generally featuring just Herrera's guitar and Glover's voice, on ten original songs that come straight from the heart.
Dn'A opens with "Headin' Home", a heartfelt tribute to a grandfather and his ideals. Ashley Glover's voice fills this song from the bottom up with a mature voice full of flavor, life experience and just a hint of grit. Both celebratory and funereal in nature, the song is an intriguing opener. "The Maze" points to hope for all who are lost in a bland but well-voiced effort. "The Simple Life" sticks with a straightforward singer/songwriter sound that is compounded by a general lack of dynamic range. "Shades Of Winter" juxtaposes a message of hope and moving forward with a dark, melancholic arrangement that seems to say quite the opposite. It's an interesting choice for a song of self-discovery that doesn't entirely work but makes a game effort.
"Love & Lies" features another dichotomy. The song is well written, and Ashley Glover's voice sounds wonderful, but the emotive ballad style she pursues here doesn't fit well with the story-teller style of the song. It's as if Glover is trying to make the song into something it doesn't want to be. "Two-Way Mirror" works better; Glover's emotive style is more effective in a musical self-analysis based in imperfection and insecurity. "Wheels Of Time" is a heartfelt message to a beloved grandfather who has passed on. It's the best effort on the disc, with Glover breaking out of her comfort zone and tackling her upper range. "I Wanna Know" is a straightforward confrontation about a lover's whereabouts that winds up with him kicked to the curb. Glover plays this too straight, substituting an emotive state for emotion in a performance that falls flat. "Breathe" is a solid tune, but a bit out of context as a closer here.
Dn'A has a lot going for them. Donnie Herrera and Ashley Glover have created songs full of potential, but often these songs don't actualize the same. What are missing here are two or three more instrumental voices to help fill out the sound and challenge Dn'A in the creative process. Glover is far too comfortable in the arrangements, relying on a gorgeous alto voice with amazing tone to make up for a lack of conviction in the songs. Glover knows what the songs and respective emotions should sound like, but it’s hard to know whether she ever feels them on Headin' Home. Likewise, the arrangements are safe and unencumbered. The result is a homogeneous sound that never changes a great deal, and wears on the listener by the end of the album.
Rating: 2 Stars (Out of 5)