Search The Line of Best Fit
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Douglas Dare – Rough Trade East, London 17/09/14

23 September 2014, 12:30 | Written by Jack Dutton

You wouldn't think that the sleepy Dorset town of Bridport could breed so much musical talent. Poetic rocker PJ Harvey grew up there, and so did folk socialist Billy Bragg. Bragg even has a beach nicknamed after him there. The actual name of the beach is Burton Bradstock, but some locals call it Braggstock - as it's so close to where Bragg lives.

The latest star to emerge from the seaside town is Douglas Dare. A specialist in crafting lovely, wintery slices of melancholy pop, tonight marks his last live show before going onto San Francisco to try and conquer the US.

Dare is poised as he plays for the first time in the Rough Trade record store, reminiscing about the times when he used to go there as a customer. The ripple of the title track off his debut album Whelm sounds fantastic in the small venue; he uses the reverb to his advantage, making his soft piano-driven tunes sound more haunting than ever.

Dare and his drummer work together well - the drummer is the only other band member on the stage. The rhythms aren't particularly complex, but they are still engaging - offbeat and contrived and working perfectly with the piano.

Dare's speaking voice sounds like it's wilting slightly, as he talks to the audience between songs. But despite this, his singing voice is unaffected. His first single, “Lungful” sounds magnificent, and is accompanied with just the right amount of release on the piano.

After a strong start to the set, there are a few tracks that are a little disappointing, such as the awkward trip hop of “Unrest” which really doesn’t suit the venue, sounding like it doesn't belong. Dare finishes with “Swim”, which combines the electronic percussion of Radiohead circa Kid A, along with his trademark mournful piano jabs. On record, it is a very atmospheric and cinematic listen, but in a live setting, it falls just short of the mark. The piano is often drowned out by the heavy percussion, meaning that the song often loses its momentum.

These shortcomings aside, Dare's set is impressive, his music suiting the intimate venue mostly rather splendidly. It'll be interesting to see whether the Americans will take a similar shining to his music.

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