Take a gently simmering pot of Feist-like sweetness, add a pinch of St. Vincent’s left of centre mood, and more than a smidge of Lisa Hannigan and you could very well end up with Dear Reader or something quite like it. Replace Why with Funny, produced by Menomena’s Brent Knopf, is the South African duo’s (now trio, with brand spanky new drummer) second album- having changed their name from Harris Tweed under threat of a lawsuit by Scotland’s Harris Tweed community.
There are heaps of things to like about this album – Cherilyn MacNeil’s heartfelt voice is clear as a bell as she guides the album’s mood ring through everything from delicate alt-balladry to up tempo quirky tunes with little devil horns back through to introspective, emotional tracks with full choral backing. Replace Why is never short on heart and it’s what makes the album feel something like a cosy jumper- not too tight, nice and soft and in an attractive colour that makes you look tolerably hot when in company. It’s not a demanding listen, familiar sounds plaster the album’s walls but are balanced with enough originality to be recognisably Dear Reader.
Album openers -Way Of The World’ and mischievous -Dearheart’ are standout tracks, as is the very St. Vincent -Never Goes’. Some tracks might get a bit sugary for some (-The Same’ has beautifully penned anti-racist lyrics that get a tad bogged down in choral oohs and aahs) but, for those who like their musical cuppa with two lumps instead of one this isn’t much of a setback. Either way, with healthy online and live buzz building, and with the promise of a new band member in the near future, Dear Reader should be with us for a long while yet – and that’s a good thing.