Doran’s self-titled debut album is an absolute blessing for any fan of folk and freak folk music.
Elizabeth LaPrelle (of Anna & Elizabeth) joined forces with musicians Channing Showalter and Annie Schermer (of West of Roan), and songwriter and producer Brian Dolphin to create this collection of beautifully rustic folk tunes. The Washington-centered group honed their sound and crafted their songs together through several different creative prompts and group rituals while on a retreat in Virginia. This bonding experience comes through the music, as the record permeates a strong communal and yet intimate atmosphere.
The songs on this album frequently revolve around the sounds of the musician’s voices, which often sing unaccompanied and are treated like lead instruments themselves. Supporting the vocals is a whole cornucopia of folk instruments that include fiddles, harmoniums and dulcimers. Between the rustic instrumentation and the strong emphasis on the group’s vocal harmonies, the tracks on this album feel so pure and yet also so outside of time, it’s like this music was born out of the very soil of the Appalachian Mountains.
Throughout the record, you can find hushed a cappella lullabies (“Old Moon”), Anne Briggs-like dulcimer tunes (“Down the Road”) and dreamy personal meditations (“And We Are Going”).
One of the LP’s more unique moments is the theatrical “The Shadow Walks Behind You,” which blends wispy smoke-like vocalizations and light dulcimer strums with a spoken word narration. The song speaks of how one might want to leave all of their shadows—the darkness of their personalities and past—behind them, but in order to truly live and grow, one must instead face and come to terms with the shadows of their lives. This lesson is told like an ancient fable around a campfire, truly encapsulating the album’s overarching tribal spirit.
Doran’s stark yet pastoral debut is an essential listen for anyone who counts themselves as a huge fan of the work of Mountain Man, The Left Outsides or the Leaves From Off the Tree record by Meg Baird, Helena Espvall and Sharron Kraus.
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