In Dawn Riding’s ‘Love Song,’ Love Can Mean Sending Flowers or Lying to a Judge
Welcome to Pass the Aux, where every week we feature new music by Bay Area artists. Check out past entries and submit a song for future coverageÂ here.
âIâve seen so many kinds of love,â Sarah Rose Janko croons in âLove Song,â the slow-tempo single from Riding Dawnâs sophomore album, First Light, released by Oakland label The Long Road Society on June 25. She counts the ways love manifests, by turns rough and sweet, scary and commonplace. Love can be flowers or Christmas dinner, but it can also mean lying to a judge and running through the streets. In its most corrupted, abusive extreme, she notes, it can take the form of verbal and physical threats. âLove Songâ culminates in a direct entreaty to Jankoâs listener. âScientists and analysts, they donât know your heart,â she sings. âDonât ask them what it is, tell me what you want.â
The Riding Dawn trio is tight and spare on this album. Hall McCann joins Jankoâs acoustic guitar with electric guitar and harmony vocals, and Jasmyn Wongâs drums steadily guide each country-folk track. Jankoâs lyrics on First Light are often hyper-specific: âAvondaleâ references a night spent in a parish womenâs jail, another song a funeral in South Missouri. Her words paint pictures of places and people on the edges of American society. Sorrow, yearning and absence are palpable.
âLove Song,â like its title suggests, is less about the specifics of a particular romance than the expansive ways we can experience love. A music video by photographer Chris Berntsen illustrates the song with images of queer relationships and youthful rebellion: freight-hopping, swimming holes, groups of gorgeous men at the beach. But despite this connection to often sunny imagery, âLove Songâ feels to me like something played late at night in a quietly attentive bar, perfect for a shambling slow dance with whoever makes you feel right, and good enough.
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