Just when you think you’ve sussed a form of music enough to brand it as valueless, some clever souls find a way to turn it over and expose what’s lost under decades of cut-and-paste. Dungeonesse is a collaboration between R’n’B veteran Jon Ehrens (writer and producer in White Life and Art Department) and indie-folk singer Jenn Wasner (Wye Oak and Flock of Dimes) that’s desperate to liven the genre they’ve grown to love so much. Their debut self-titled album released through Secretly Canadian, whilst not an entirely successful experiment, is likely to liven most of the souls who took to ninety-inspired-noughties pop acts Jessie Ware or Niki & The Dove as well as the reality relatable songwriters in Friends and Kindness.
“Shucks” is a great opening; the first few beats are somewhat atypical for a song its nature, yet work in the grand scheme of all things synth and bass. The chorus lyrics, “I know it doesn’t look like much, but its love, and I know that it’s good enough” strives to describe that deep-seated, exclusively human desire one develops in a diaphoretic environment (the same one that’s turned vulgar by most chart toppers, yet ironically also propelled Daft Punk’s latest single to the top). Musically it joins the grouping of tracks on the album that are undeniably well conceived, like the fast-lane propelled anthem “Drive You Crazy” or early taster track “Nightlight”. The latter, above all, leaks out that nineties reverence that inspired this partnership in the first place.
There are other songs though don’t grab so well and fall by the waste side. “Show You”, whilst lucky enough to be graced by Wasner’s flawless singing, doesn't hold up to the aspirations of its conception, feeling phoned in and less an affront to a stagnant industry. TT The Artist features in “This Could Be Home” in a rather unique way, in that his voice lies within the background as opposed to his name underlying a handful of lyrics, however DDm’s vocal contributions in “Cadillac” do just that.
Even if these examples won’t go down a storm, as a whole the Dungeonesse genuinely feels like a passion project in both input and output. There are plenty of instances in the running time that crave any and all attention, and there’s no reason to expect the next collaboration between Ehrens and Wasner shan’t improve upon this.
Release: 13th May 2013, Secretly Canadian