MORNING HERALD. JUNE 17, 2000 |
'no longer simply sweet and soft acoustic pop, this is lush pop
two months ago
leonardo's bride previewed 'open sesame' at the basement and began their first
major run of performances after at least a year. once a busking duo comprising
principal songwriter dean manning and singer abby dobson, they became the warmly
acoustic, strum & drum, pop quartet leonardo's bride in 1996 [their single
'even when i'm sleeping' from their debut album 'angel blood', nominated for an
aria in 1997]. at the basement,
they had changed again.
for a start, they were
standing on their own two feet. literally. gone were the stools and cushions,
the candlesticks and drapes that has seen them embraced as sydney's ambassadors
of the so called 'soft sound'. not quite a rock band, their new single 'sonic'
with it's hummingbirds and cure feel demonstrated that they would be ready when
thrown to the lions [or, in this case, the loins] as the support act for tom
jones a fortnight later. they were something more powerful and 'open sesame'
dobson's dreamy yet
powerful delivery of manning's beatlesy melodies, his tales of persecution and
adoration [these are love songs and almost exclusively there is a 'you' being
suffered, worshipped and, sublimely in 'blue gone green', both at the same time]
is, necessarily, to the fore. but the drummer jon howell's tight, spare fills
and patrick hydnes's elegant, sympathetic bass are more profoundly felt, more
dominant than before, particularly so on 'dreamship', 'that boy' and dobson's
sole composition 'begging bowl'. the band has dobson centre stage and leonardo's
bride are better for it.
'open sesame' has
benefited from other inputs too, specifically jackie orszaczky's string
arrangements and james cadsky's production. if leonardo's have a weakness it's a
tendency towards gluey earnestness, a treacliness in expression; sawing strings
risk sugaring the mix further. here, however, they embolden. dobson has her
knockers too in this area. while her voice is a marvelous instrument [one
marvels at its resonance and breadth] there's a suggestion she's still learning
how to play it. dobson sometimes babys her phrasing when reaching to express
tenderness: an attenuated 'oooh' becomes an elongated 'cheeew'.
'open sesame' is a
strong fresh album from a band who rewarded expectations by taking care to take
their time. - matt buchanan