Posts Tagged ‘Dawnbreaker’

The year is just halfway through, but 2019 has already been a big one for Alexandra Sauser-Monnig. The musician best known as one-third of Mountain Man, the folk trio who made their comeback with last year’s beautiful Magic Ship, announced earlier this year that her debut solo record was en route. Dawnbreaker arrives less than a year after Magic Ship, Mountain Man’s second album as a trio and their first after an eight-year hiatus. It’s a gentle 10-song collection of rustling folk-pop.

Dawnbreaker is the first album Alexandra Sauser-Monnig she has released under the name Daughter of Swords. To celebrate its release (it’s out today via Nonesuch Records) Sauser-Monnig broke the album down for us track-by-track.

“Fellows”

The guitar line of “Fellows” materialized while I was living in a beautiful, ramshackle old farmhouse in rural Virginia with a former partner, and the words later while camping high up a California mountain road on a break from touring with Feist many years ago. The writing of the song spanned the end of one relationship and the beginning of another, and it reflects on the futility of defining yourself through your relationship to a partner.

“Gem” 

“Gem” was the first song that Nick Sanborn — who engineered, co-produced, mixed and played on the record — and I collaborated on arranging. He’s really good at following what’s fun, and pivoting to another song or idea or approach when the joy or the energy feels like it’s beginning to lag. After having recorded a couple of pretty spare demos and takes, this song ventured into new terrain and was the first time the breadth of the spectrum of sound and arrangement of the record became clear.

“Shining Woman” 

I wrote this song when I was feeling wrapped up about what being an adult person with a womb means. Writing it felt like a reminder to myself that the world is full of inspiring people choosing to make their own paths through life liberated from the cultural and biological script. The main character of the song took up residence in my mind and served as a reminder to me that change is always possible.

“Fields of Gold”

Drummer Joe Westerlund, formerly of Megafaun and currently of Mandolin Orange, played a large role in shaping the feel of “Fields of Gold.” He is a wizard of aux percussion and has a library of things to make sounds with, from shakers and bells to custom made metal sculptures that you play with a bow to things nature made that happen to sound beautiful. He lived next door to the studio where Dawnbreaker was made, and for a couple of magical days made complicated, delicate percussive arrangements holding more percussion in his hands than seemed humanly possible before I saw him in action.

“Grasses” 

“Grasses” is a meditation on acceptance. I wrote the words when I was sick with tick-borne illness. My body felt really wrong and I was having trouble getting any insight or advice, or even a diagnosis from doctors. So all I knew was that I felt terrible and that it wasn’t getting better. I sang “Grasses” to myself while lying in bed in an effort to comfort myself and to get down from the high ledges of fear and panic I was on in my mind.

“Easy is Hard”

Country was the first kind of music that made me feel something potent that I couldn’t name. It’s often where my songwriting begins, even if it doesn’t stay there. “Easy is Hard” follows its own logic, but feels like one of the songs on the record whose roots are most obviously in country.

“Rising Sun”

For a while I had an old worn out Sun Records tape of Billy Lee Riley songs in my car. I was in a very transitional phase of life and latched onto this tape and listened to it all the time in a way that gave me the tiniest sense of stability. I learned a blues shuffle off of it and wrote a different version of the song, which is “Rising Sun.” One of my favorite moments on the record is the end of this song — as the band fades out, the voices of Mountain Man fade in, humming like the highway and ending with all our voices and the sound of the room predominant in an unexpected way.

“Long Leaf Pine”

I had just moved to North Carolina and had been out blackberry picking and exploring the woods behind my house when I wrote “Long Leaf Pine.” I came back in and sat down and the song came out more or less complete. Recording it was equally magical — Nick Sanborn and I had been trying different arrangements of the song, and had started over again, making some kind of far out choices. It had started snowing outside when Amelia Meath and Molly Sarlé came over. They sang beautiful witchy harmonies while snow was falling outside the window and contextualized everything else beautifully within the realm of harmony.

“Human”

This was another song that appeared mostly formed very fast. I’ve had the possibly common but definitely surreal experience a few times of my subconscious delivering up verdicts on my life choices in song form before the rest of my mind is ready to acknowledge whatever it is, and that was the case with Human. We recorded the song, and then I left it alone for almost a year without even listening to it. There was a point that I didn’t want it on the record because it’s so raw. But now its presence feels crucial to me in the arc of the record.

“Dawnbreaker” 

“Dawnbreaker” is a dive into the ways imagining possible transmogrification into a different life form sometimes feels preferable to facing the hard emotional truths of life with a human consciousness. This last track on the record was one of the first takes that we recorded, and it was recorded as a demo. For a while, I wanted to get a different take to use, but none of the subsequent takes had the same rawness and tentative energy that ultimately felt so right as a note to end on.

thanks to http://www.talkhouse.com

“Dawnbreaker” is on the debut album from Daughter of Swords, out 28th June via Nonesuch Records

Introducing… Daughter Of Swords

Daughter of Swords, the new project of Alexandra Sauser-Monnig of Mountain Man, has shared the track “Gem”, the first peek into her solo output. Of the song, Sauser-Monnig says “‘Gem’ is about that omnipotent feeling you get when you’re falling in love and the rules haven’t been made yet. When everything feels possible and the world looks beautiful and shining, and at the same time, you and the world are kind of dented from human contact. This was the first song Nick Sanborn (Sylvan Esso) and I produced together. It was so much fun. To me, with its messed up little drum beat and unrelenting optimism, it feels like a romance novel in song form being played out of a tiny, broken cassette player.”

“Gem” is available everywhere now and Daughter of Swords debut album is due summer 2019 on Bella Union/Nonesuch. Additionally, Daughter of Swords has announced two New York shows in November with Sylvan Esso at the Beacon Theatre, with more tour dates to come.

About “Gem” and Daughter of Swords: There’s a patience in the little things. The arc of sticky summers brimming and eventually cooling, grasses overgrowing before being cut to stubs, creeks rushing to an eventual trickle, night skies growing darker before dawn breaks. In stillness and in presence, we can allow these archetypes to pervade our experience and teach us lessons as old as time and reflexive in every organism’s makeup. This clarity is present in every note of “Gem”, the debut release from Daughter of Swords – Alexandra Sauser-Monnig of Mountain Man. Starting small on a creaky old guitar, a single voice in the air, these meditations were brought to life over the winter in a tiny house at the centre of a creative commune. It’s a compass set, an intention stated, a window flung open to let the summer air in – buoyant, resilient, golden.

Daughter of SwordsAlexandra Sauser-Monnig of Mountain Man—performs “Gem.”

Image may contain: plant, tree, text, nature and outdoor

Image may contain: plant, tree, text, nature and outdoor

The year isn’t yet halfway through, but 2019 has already been a big one for Alexandra Sauser-Monnig. The musician best known as being one-third of Mountain Man, the folk trio who made their comeback with last year’s beautiful Magic Ship, announced earlier this year that her debut solo record is en route: Dawnbreaker is out June 28th on Nonesuch Records.

Sauser-Monnig says, The last line of the last song on the record is ‘Dawn breaking.’ And I feel like I was sitting at dinner with some friends and it was like towards the end of recording the album, and we were talking about names for the record. And ‘Dawnbreaker’ had come up for me and through talking, like maybe my friend Amelia [Meath] had also had that same thought or just confirmed the great idea. But it sort of does feel like a ship name or starting out on a new foot. There are all sorts of different images or ideas that come up with it.

It arrives less than a year after Magic Ship, Mountain Man’s second album as a trio and their first after an eight-year hiatus.

Following previously released singles “Gem” and the title track, The spritely new tune “Shining Woman” with a fitting video. Documenting a chance encounter with a striking woman, the song works like folklore, as if the woman in question (portrayed in the video by one of Sauser-Monnig’s friends who donned a pair of “shining” gold pants) is so arresting she’s not even real. Was she ever really there? “She rode away into the breeze,” Sauser-Monnig sings over a quietly looping drum beat and a polite electric guitar. The video, which you can watch below, culminates in a twilight gathering of cyclists that looks like a lovely way to send off the day.

Daughter of Swords new album, “Dawnbreaker”, out 28th June.2019.