All it takes is 3 chords and a dream!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Review: Dune Tran - Heart Anchors

Dune Tran - Heart Anchors
2009, Dune Tran

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada native Dune Tran relocated to San Francisco in 2001. Getting a late start on a music career, Tran never learned guitar until the age of 21, and piano until she was 24. Tran has wasted no time putting her skills to use, spending some time singing backup vocals for San Francisco’s Leilujh before taking the solo route. 2009 sees Tran’s hard work come to fruition with the release of her debut album, Heart Anchors.

Heart Anchors has some great moments, from Tran's Tori Amos-inspired piano playing to the occasional sprinkling of gorgeous pop moments. Tran sings with raw emotion and a sweet voice with just a bit of an edge. On songs like All, Tran has an essential likability that comes across in the music. All is a sweet love song, ready for mix-tape exposure, but on the vocal side Tran shows the occasional big flaw (like pitch issues here and there). One gets the idea that Tran doesn't care, she just enjoys singing. That joy is infectious enough that the listener will overlook some of these small things and really get into the songs. Silence is a gorgeous and emotionally raw bit of personal biography about a relationship that's caught in between two phases. On songs like Daydreams, Tran proves herself to be an apt painter of human emotion in song, laying out the emotional landscape of a relationship in musical forms you can understand.

Tran's loveliest composition on Heart Anchors features Tran, piano and cello. Fading Into Black has a stark beauty and loneliness woven into the instrumentation that is more telling than any lyric. Elements of Tori Amos and Sarah McLachlan can be heard here, but Tran sinks into an original voice that is between those two and yet not of either one. Trans says goodnight with the bruising piano driven song Safety Nets. Fans of early Tori Amos will dig this song, which is extremely well-written aside from any stylistic similarities. Other highlights include Love Underwater and Cannot Reach You.

Dune Tran's Heart Anchors is an intriguing if uneven first effort. Tran show obvious influence from artists such as Tori Amos and Sarah McLachlan. Her best moments come when she plays out those influences into something of her own style. Where Tran tries to be a bit more mainstream the songs lack real personality and fall a bit flat. Dune Tran's voice has a sweetness to it that hides an edge you can never quite put your finger on. My suspicion (and hope) is that this is just the beginning for Tran. There's a lot more music in there, and over time she'll hone her skills further. For now, Heart Anchors is a great start.

Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Dune Tran at or You can purchase a copy of Heart Anchors at

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