Dakota Moon

Dakota Moon

Elektra Records, 1998


REVIEW BY: George Agnos


Dakota Moon is a new band with an interesting sound. I accidentally caught their act at a J&R Music World in-store performance while I was looking for some new CD's. I was so impressed by them, I bought their self-titled CD even though I had never heard of them before I entered the store. They are a foursome that sing smooth harmonies not unlike the R&B group Boyz II Men, but they play acoustic guitars, bass, and percussion, and they mix different styles of music like folk, rock, R&B and country into a sound uniquely their own. Does the mixture of these different styles of music work? The answer, for the most part, is yes.

The album starts off strongly with the energetic "Another Day Goes By." The acoustic guitars crank up, the harmonies, led by lead singer Ty Taylor, really soar and the rhythm section consisting of bassist Ray Artis and percussionist Malloy provide a steady and sure backbeat. The production here like on the rest of the album is crisp and uncluttered. Basically, everything about this song clicks.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

They slow down on the next cut with a sweet ballad called "A Promise I Make." This has to be the prettiest song I've heard in a long time. This is where the Boyz II Men comparison really kicks in, if only that group could come up with a song this good. Taylor and the rest of the band show that they can sing both ballads and uptempo songs effectively. The next song "Violet" is another sweet ballad just as pretty (I really can't remember the last time I heard two back-to-back ballads I enjoyed so much). Malloy takes a turn on the lead vocals and does quite a good job.

Guitarist Joe Dean takes over the lead vocals for "She Knows" (Dakota Moon is not lacking in good singing). The song starts out at a slow tempo backed up with some soft but busy drumming from Malloy, but then explodes into a boisterous and catchy chorus. "Won't Be Alone Tonight" gives us a chance to hear the foursome sing acapella briefly before the instruments kick in. This is the most country-ish number on the album and would not sound be out of place on an Oak Ridge Boys or Alabama (remember them?) album.

There are a few missteps on the album: the ballads "Sing You To Sleep" and "Black Moon Day" needed more lyrical depth to really put them over; instead they come off a tad syrupy. "Snow In July" is a half-hearted attempt to do a Stevie Wonder-type funk number. And "Call On Me" is another R&B-flavored cut that also does not quite take off. I think the problem is they haven't successfully worked out how to incorporate funkiness into their sound.

However, things do get back on track with "Sweet Lady Jane" a smooth, midtempo R&B number which fits their sound much better. They also do a rousing cover of James Taylor's "Your Smiling Face" giving the song some nice soulful touches. Finally, the album's closer is a winsome midtempo ballad appropriately titled "Til We Meet Again."

Dakota Moon are a talented band with a fresh sound and lots of enthusiasm. It's hard not to like a combination like that. Despite a few rookie mistakes, they have created an impressive debut. Their album is a nice light and appealing piece of work perfect for the summer. I look forward to hearing more from them.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1998 George Agnos and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Elektra Records, and is used for informational purposes only.