Lady Dan’s journey to her debut album is more intriguing than most. Growing up in Alabama, the Austin-based singer-songwriter struggled to find much affinity for her relatively left-field tastes, unearthing no scene to accommodate her love for country, punk and folk. This desire for acceptance soon became a necessity, however, as Lady Dan (real name Tyler Dozier) found herself on the way to a Christian ministry school with her manipulative then-boyfriend. Trapped between the rigidity of her religion and the expectations of her partner, Dozier reassessed her priorities, heading home to care for her father who would soon pass from cancer, before finally pursuing a career in music.
The result of her personal awakening is an album that is cathartic, tender and heartbreaking in equal measure. Taking inspiration from a combination of country, jazz and folk, Dozier has crafted an album with clear cultural reference points with which she assuredly weaves her own story. Her frank and meaning-laden lyrics give 'I Am The Prophet' a vast sincerity, often mixing with occasional biblical references to create a collection of songs that are rich in the classical storytelling tradition.
‘Better Off Alone’ is the first standout track on the LP, a waltzing lament full of poised arrangements and a gorgeously emotive vocal melody. Given Dozier’s backstory, you would assume that ‘Better Off Alone’ is an assertive claim of her independence. Instead, she peels back her layers of guardedness, claiming “I don’t want to talk to you I’m scared you’ll make me cry,” before stating “I think about you when you’re not around.” Indeed, much of the first half of this album follows this pattern, giving Dozier the space to take stock of the enormous changes her life has witnessed.
Dozier provides further intimate insights on ‘Plagiarist Blues,’ the brightest demonstration of her raw songwriting talent. “Strip me down to my mother” she croons in the songs opening line, summoning up an image as visceral and as relatable as anything on the album. The heart-wrenching merge of folk and country she conjures plays out as the perfect sounding board on which to project the search for her own voice. “I don’t want to write my own songs / I want to sing everybody else’s,” she freely admits, before stating, “yet there’s no one / who feels quite the way I do.”
The album then changes pace as Dozier’s search for her identity is swiftly followed by ‘I Am the Prophet,’ an assertive declaration of her power as a woman before segueing into ‘No Home’, her most honest address of heartbreak and grief. “I’ve been reborn / I’ve got a new skin,” she proclaims over achingly delicate piano and guitar, before stating, I am no longer a slave to all your / patriarchal sins.” This theme of personal awakening carries over into the aptly named ‘Misandrist to Most’, while her ire is then turned on class divide in the politically charged ‘The Boys Who Can’t Sit Still’ - a nod to the socialist folk pioneers from which she much of her early inspiration.
Words: Ben Miles
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