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LITERATURE

 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Nora O'Connor
Til the Dawn
Bloodshot Records

Rating: 8.5/10 ?


October 1, 2004
I like to think of Nora O'Connor as an angel. Her voice is one I long to hear when my fate's been decided. It has been compared to a blackbird in print, and that description is fitting - it's not quite straight or pretty, but does it soar...

If Nora were an angel, though, she'd have jurisdiction over Purgatory, reminding saints and sinners that the distance between salvation and damnation is pretty much the same. It is from that vantage point, between Heaven and Hell, that makes her perspective so interesting. Her voice alone could be enough, but what she sees and says every day make all the difference.

Loving her from the very start, as she has worked with my two favorite Chicago outfits, Andrew Bird's Bowl of Fire and The Blacks, Til the Dawn seems a long time coming for me. I remember when she used to wear a pink wig, oh so long ago, and when "Two Way Action" used to be her solo calling card until pairing it with Andrew Bird on The Swimming Hour. I have waited to hear her all by her lonesome, and see what cards she deals my poor soul. Thank God for reluctant patience, this was worth every afterthought.

Beginning with the bluesy lounge number, "My Backyard," we hear the low, even wailing of Nora's fulfilling vocals, inspired by the classicism of Nat "King" Cole. Right from the start, the combination of her striking, coarse voice and humbling sensibilities, Nora proves herself timeless.

As "Nightingale" shows she plays well with others, showcasing Bird's sweeping strings and layered approach, the soaring "Bottoms" shows she can stand on her own. After having graced album after album for friends, her moment in the sun is well deserved. The sighing, effervescent country places her as a rambling rose, preaching the gospel of life.

Her covers of Fleetwood Mac's "That's Alright" and Kitty Lester's "Loveletters" are pitch perfect as well - the former sounds like Joni Mitchell with a Southern lilt, determined to make eyes and hearts alike swell up; the latter is possibly the greatest track on the album: a brilliant, deep confection whose lyrics serve her impeccably. As she pits the brash demand, "Stop screaming" against the tender revelation, "Come on home and let me love you," we must stop to wonder if the man is battling himself or resigning to the woman. Either way, the perspective of a woman who has the answers he needs proves she is smarter by far. Nora O'Connor comes off as a lady who really knows the ways of the world, having learned many important lessons early on.

If you were to enter a church, ablaze with the alleviating energy of testimonials, and soak in the full relief of confession, you would do well to remember Til the Dawn. You can do wrong, time and again, but if you listen to the wisdom passed on to you, glory always wins.

Reviewed by Sarah Peters
A former music editor and staff writer for LAS, Sarah Peters recently disappeared. Perhaps one day she will surface again, who knows.

See other reviews by Sarah Peters

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