She is a most unique artist, a title that’s hard to claim in a time where one-hit wonders are jockeying for online eyeballs and eardrums. Looking like one of Robert Palmer’s models, Thorpe has a voice and aesthetic that is completely her own. Sure, her throaty vocals might remind you of Natalie Merchant or, more recently, Florence Welch, but her lyrics and musical inclinations are other-worldly. Part folk, part electronica, and part straight-up spoken-word, it’s earcandy with a message directed towards folks existing right here, right now, in 2014.
Take, for instance, this snippet of a lyric from “Can I See What’s In Your Backpack,” a live-action rant against society’s obsession with manufactured existence: “I’ve got a notebook, a pen, and an apple, too / Not a Mac, an actual apple food.” Thorpe lays it down like an aggressive beat poet who’s genuinely fed up with the cheapening of our world. Has she read our minds? Kind of. We’re all thinking it; she just says it better.
When Lullabies gets a little heavy, catchy ditties like “State Of Things” take over to flavor the same biting words with a fun ukulele beat and Thorpe’s divine voice. On “Hold A Place,” she peppers in a little jazz, along with more spoken-word narration. She speaks so deliberately, like she wants you to hear and understand every word. She genuinely cares. It’s barely noticeable when she breaks into “Fever” midway through “Carsick” – the song, so recognizable to virtually everyone, sounds like it was meant for her.
But, just as one might expect her to step onto a soapbox, her gorgeous, ethereal singing voice takes over and immediately enchants the listener. She could tell us to do whatever she wants, and I guarantee we’d be out the door before the song finished. It’s this incredible balance that makes Lullabies such a landmark album. The best part is there are clearly no record company gimmicks here, no commercial political statements. It’s just Dinah Thorpe, her soul, and her undeniable talent.