By Shiley Carter
Daily Cougar Staff
Born and raised in the non-inspiring Pleasantville, Iowa, Laura Dawn
grew up listening to country legends Willie Nelson, Loretta Lynn and Dolly
Parton. She loved their storytelling abilities but still had an attraction
to rock groups like the Smashing Pumpkins, the Clash and the Pixies.
Gabrielle Revere/Extasy Records International
Laura Dawn left the prairies of Iowa for New York City
and found nothing but trouble. She battled drugs and heartache before making
However, a new start in life in the anything-but-boring New York City
Dawn's once uninteresting life to a climax. A fall to rock bottom,
by a slow climb back to normalcy, has inspired her new album, Believer,
released on Extasy Records International.
Dawn packed her bags and moved to New York, where she was completely
alone, at the age of 21. Sleeping on her suitcases, then in a small
apartment, Dawn went through many trials in just a few years of her
life. Drug abuse, heartbreaks, friends' deaths and a huge realization that
was completely unlike anything she had ever fathomed brought Dawn to
the point of writing more than 50 songs while alone and reflecting.
Aiming for a combination of the storytelling features of her old country
favorites and other mixtures of punk, rock, Goth and pop, Dawn brings to
stories she sings about in a beautiful, eclectic, 15-track album.
Her songs are like an open book, depicting in vivid detail and beautiful
honesty her hardships in life. They have a brutal truth to them, and her
emotional voice brings passion to her words throughout each song.
"I wanted to make a pop album that was extreme, that could go from the
most beautiful, sparse love song to the most solid, traditional pop songwriting
and then on to the most pounding punk rock," Dawn said. "In a way,
it's kind of a woman's version of emo-core. We worked very hard to keep
and real, yet when it came time to blow your head off — well, I think
some tracks rock very, very hard."
The album begins with "Free and Lonely Life," a song that seems to sum
up Dawn's life.
This is followed by a more hardcore punk song, "The Old You," about
a man in Dawn's life who was addicted to drugs. She remembers their happy
days together and then when things turned bad: "And sometimes alone
in the dark/ I sit around just for a lark/ Rememberin' the old me and the
Dawn's voice is diverse. She can purr, sing, whisper and rage. In "Nothing
to Me," she sounds a bit like Poe in the way she purrs out the words to
My favorite song on the album is the title track. This song is very
eclectic, as it takes the listener on a journey full of surprises with
each new verse.
"Being a believer, keeping faith that there's purpose to your life,
is certainly a double-edged sword," Dawn said. "Faith is sexy, it's silly,
it's moving and
real and elusive. But it can be dangerous and destructive if it's not
tempered with some experience and wisdom."
Believer is a work of art made by a woman with lots of experience, wisdom,
faith and appeal.
*** (out of five stars)
Extasy Records International