Daisies a day

Here’s the newest anchor to Portland’s folk-roots scene
By SAM PFEIFLE  |  October 31, 2007
inside_beat_daisies_110207
SUNNY SIDE UP Truth About Daisies.

Truth About Daisies | Released by Truth About Daisies | with Dave Grant Trio | at One Longfellow Square, in Portland | Nov 10
I’m in the camp that says band names are important. By Blood Alone couldn’t have any other sound. Rustic Overtones, Twisted Roots, and Rusted Root make for a confusing triumvirate unless you really know the bands. There’s simply no good reason to be so conspicuous that you feel the urge to use “funk,” “groove,” or “blues” in your band name. Unless you’re being ironic or something.

What could Truth About Daisies be if not bright and sunny? The former See Jane Run have re-named themselves well. Though I’d buy that band name for a group of gal indie rockers, they are instead a collection of mature and talented musicians, three women and two men, who feature warm harmonies on every tune, a style of new-age folk that leans toward the uplifting, and a bit of reggae rhythm from time to time that might recall the Caribbean. There’s a reason the cool kids give daisies now instead of roses.

On the cover of Truth About Daisies’ new debut self-titled album, you can even just make out the time-and-temp building showing it’s 98 degrees, hopefully a reference to that hot, hot, hot boy band that introduced us to Nick Lachey.

It’s unlikely you’ll find this five-piece dancing around with mics on their heads, but that’s not to say they don’t get a little giddy-up in their steps from time to time. “NYC Blues” is an active 12-bar affair, with lots of snare and harmonica, reminiscent of the traditional “Minglewood Blues.” Sheila McKinley, who fronts just more than half the 14 tunes here, tells us, “They’ll be talking in Russian/They’ll be talking in Japanese/They’ll call you in German/You’re in French up to your knees.” You know, just like, say, Gorham.

That’s where they recorded the disc, in USM’s Corthell Concert Hall, with the help of Marc and Gina Bartholomew, who run Acadia Recording. The result is a consistently warm and expansive sound, especially with the percussion, as on the opening “Sunshine” (told you they were sunny). Congas by “Burd” open the tune, joined by a jammy electric guitar, and the vocals are first-rate, with at least three parts that are exquisitely mixed and layered. At times, as on “Pink Peonies” (you’re noticing a trend here, right?), McKinley and songwriting partner/co-lead vocalist Doug Swift sound like the new-age version of Danny and Sandy: “You are the tree, I am the Earth/You are the sun, I am the water/High and low, fast and slow/Round we go and we are together.” But that’s not a bad thing if you’re a fan of the singalong and catchy tunes that follow a verse-chorus-verse-bridge-chorus structure. On “Peonies,” Swift makes the mandolin sound like a marimba or a steel drum, similar to the sound he evokes on “State You’re In,” which opens like “I’ll Fly Away” and finishes like UB40.

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