Artist Spotlight

Review: Dao Strom/The Sea And The Mother, “We Were Meant To Be A Gentle People”

No Comments 11 July 2013

Review: Dao Strom/The Sea And The Mother, “We Were Meant To Be A Gentle People”

“The spacious, haunting quality of the music and Dao’s vocals blend in a seamless artistic work. Music doesn’t have to bear a hook, a trick or slap you in the face with irony and wit; it simply has to move you. And Dao Strom will move you from East to West and back again with this lovely and powerful work.”

Artist: The Sea And The Mother

EP: We Were Meant To Be A Gentle People (East EP)

Genre: Folk, Experimental

RIYL: Gillian Welch, Victoria Williams, Emmylou Harris, Elliott Smith

The Sea And The Mother

The opening song on The Sea And The Mother’s (aka Dao Strom) We Were Meant To Be A Gentle People (East EP) is an impressive eight minutes in length. And yet during that opening track, the notes and Dao’s vocals unfold at exactly the pace they should, enveloping the listener in a warm, but quietly disconcerting manner. There is enough imagery and breadth in this one song to absolutely enthrall upon first listen.

“Cataclysm” is one of six songs that are much more than the sum of their parts; Dao Strom’s overriding vision to create “a hybrid music-literary project, combining both written and sung voices, plus text and imagery, to revive some of the old tradition of ‘ca dao’ (a tradition of sung-poetry in Vietnamese culture) utilizing the tools, language, and stylings of our modern era.” Lyrically, the words of the songs do read as poetry, carefully and intrinsically connected to the theme of the lone woman traveler, who’s moving through space and time on this record. It’s an incredibly ambitious set of songs, and quietly calculated at every moment. Everything here is intentional, and the melancholic strains of guitars, strings and atmospheric vocals provide an interesting juxtaposition to the sometimes scathing lyrics and powerful imagery conjured through words, both written and sung.

“Ode to Mother(Land)” is a stunning track that immediately captures the frustration, despair, longing, and attempt to connect with the sins of the past that lead to understanding the present. It manages to bridge the gap between personal and social commentary. “Origin Tale” again cuts straight through to the emotional and social burden that carrying the weight of blame and warfare. All while Dao emotes with a concealed intensity that never loses its focus. “Break the Silence” does just that which its title promises, ending our musical journey with this lone woman traveler on a hopeful note.

It’s a remarkable thing, Dao Strom’s ability to create such a vivid, full artistic experience and to deliver on this sung-poetry tradition in a unique and inspiring way. We Were Meant To Be A Gentle People is indeed enhanced by both listening and reading the words. This perfect balance of the aural and visual heightens the other senses. The spacious, haunting quality of the music and Dao’s vocals blend in a seamless artistic work. Music doesn’t have to bear a hook, a trick or slap you in the face with irony and wit; it simply has to move you. And Dao Strom will move you from East to West and back again with this lovely and powerful work.

 


The Sea And The Mother website: http://www.theseaandthemother.com/

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