Straylings – Entertainment on Foreign Grounds
aaamusic | On 05, Mar 2012
The first thing one is struck by when listening to Straylings’ debut album – Entertainment on Foreign Grounds – is the sound of Dana Zeera, the band’s front-woman falls similar to Grace Slick whilst also possessing the conviction of Karen-O. These are female vocals in their purest sense. Sung melodically, her drawling voice is overflowing with power and sexuality and often pain apparent. ‘Kings of the Mire’ is brimming with this feminine power, at times timid and gentle and at others bold and booming. On the third track, ‘The Saguaro’, she sings “he sounds like a man who knows” – it would be hard to convince those who hear her that Zeera sounds like a woman who doesn’t.
It is surprising to learn that Straylings’ hometown is London, as this is an album that seems to take as much influence from our capital as aboriginal cave drawings do. So deeply is the album rooted in Americana, one feels its true place in the world is bellowing from some Texan backstreet juke-joint, playing to brawny men in Stetsons whilst they sup whiskey at the bar.
Part of the reason for this western feel is Zeera’s American inflection, but that would count for nothing if not for Oliver Drake’s influence. Clearly a gifted musician, he captures the mood of the album with guitar and piano playing that is as emotive and powerful as the vocals. Musically, Entertainment on Foreign Grounds speaks of the same heartache, whilst painting the image of big sky, dry deserts and open roads.
With their debut album, Straylings have created something that sounds timeless and foreign, however this does not estrange the listener for one second, on the contrary they have been very careful to take you along with them. I for one am extremely glad they did.