Country music from Austria? Seems to be as special as the release date of the solo debut album of Austrian Karen McDawn: instead of being part of the Friday mainstream, she released her To The Moon And Back already on a Thursday, on 23rd January 2020. As the album got a certain hype in country media (honestly, majorly in the magazines which in fact copy the press releases), I was really looking forward to listen to the album by myself and share my view with you.
Karen McDawn – About The Artist
Karen McDawn was born in 1983 in Lower Austria. Her first stage appearances were during Karl May Open Air Western Theatre shows in Austria in the early 2000s. She is also having a musical background, but early decided to go for the country genre. Thereby, she first was part of bands, for example Rhythm 4 Boots and Seven Loons, for which she both sang during the early 2010s. Later, she was touring with The Buffaloes, before she decided to go solo. After a couple of singles like How do you do? or Cajun Hoedown, she went for her first album, To The Moon And Back.
Karen McDawn – To The Moon And Back – Track By Track
To The Moon And Back is a ten track album. The playing time is 38 minutes.
1. What Love Looks like
I just knew the single Cajun Hoedown before I started listening to To The Moon And Back. I’m not too much a fan of Cajun Hoedown – so that I have to get into a very different, more modern sound, is definitely a good sign, I guess.
2. I’m Gettin’ Gone
While I am listening to the second song, I’m Gettin’ Gone, I think about the press releases (also because of they have been just copied that often). They said the music is inspired by Martina McBride, Sara Evans or Jo Dee Messina. Unfortunately, this track is quite a bit away from the qualities these country music legends deliver. It is a nice song, definitely, but it is too thin as well.
3. Love You To The Moon And Back
Love You To The Moon And Back is some sort of title track of the album, I guess. Again, I have very similar feelings: you hear that it is not a bad production and songwriting, you feel the Nashville (and Atlanta) touch in the recordings, but it lacks some extra power – even if I turn up the volume more and more.
4. Even If It Breaks My Heart
Even If It Breaks My Heart is a very slow ballad. The key background instrument is the piano. In that song, I feel that this “A bit too less”-arrangement style fits best – thus, so far it is my favorite song of the album.
5. After The Rain
I had to smile while listening to this song. Some passages remind me of musical songs (though it is clearly arranged in a country music style, including steel guitars). After The Rain is the perfect example for a song I would love to listen to live on stage. Hoping the Austrian musical artist education is better than the German (I think that most German ones are weak), it could be great to listen to that performance and see how McDawn profits from her vocal strength live. On the album, it is still one of the better ones.
6. Walk On
Electric guitars from the very beginning – this song definitely has power, so I just listened and enjoyed the song much more from the very beginning. Unfortunately, the more I listened to it, it had that pop music and musical touch. Call it Alpine Country, call it Austria-Pop – I like that one!
7. One Step Closer
The seventh track of the album is a Bon Jovi cover. The original is a lovely rock ballad, maybe even a bit softer than you would expect Jon Bon Jovi and his band to sound alike. I feel that the transition to a country music song worked out quite well.
8. He Is
He Is is another track from the romantic side of To The Moon And Back. A slow ballad. Unfortunately, this is again one of these songs, which I like on the one hand, but where I see a musical actor much more than a country music artist when I close my eyes.
Did I mention Joe Dee Messina above? At least, Rain tells me a bit of why they named her as an inspiration in the press releases. To be very straight, when Joe Dee Messina is singing Heads Carolina, Tails California in a basement toilet of a Nashville Broadway bar a capella, it still doubles the power of listening to Rain in Germany, but the song got a touch – and it is the first song, which makes me feel I should come back to these ten songs after reviewing. My favorite!
What’s this musical soundtrack called again? Oh, it’s country music… Bad luck, sounds like the female main character just lost the love of her live and is now in deep depressions. Good arrangement, good song, but no country song to me.
Karen McDawn – To The Moon And Back – Spotify
Here is the Spotify widget to listen to the album:
Karen McDawn – To The Moon And Back – My View
The review might sound too negative. This girl has potential. There is good songwriting here and there, there is a good voice (though the voice is not too special to me). You feel that she loves country music and wants to promote it. Bad luck that she does not dare to give at least some songs a blast. The best songs sound like a musical soundtrack as well. Mixed emotions – I’m sure she can do much better – maybe already when she performs these ten songs live on stage.
Cover / Banner: Artist Material
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