Dear Nora - Three States: Rarities 1997-2007 Music Album Reviews

Dear Nora - Three States: Rarities 1997-2007 Music Album Reviews
The indie pop band's reissue of loosies and cover songs captures their story in thoughtful strokes and further cements Katy Davidson’s role as an influential songwriter.

Katy Davidson was in a rut. It was 2008, and after releasing three full-lengths and several EPs under the name Dear Nora, Davidson had retired the indie pop project and grown disenchanted with music. As they recall, their then-label, Portland’s Magic Marker, encouraged them to gather all their stray one-offs, covers, and song drafts into one collection, which was to be named Three States: Rarities 1997-2007. As Dear Nora waited in hibernation, the anthology of 60-ish simple and heartfelt songs became a fan favorite.
Twelve years after its original release, Three States: Rarities 1997-2007 is now receiving the reissue treatment from Orindal. Featuring a slightly expanded tracklist, the triple LP box set essentially tells the story of Dear Nora, which Davidson began in 1999 while studying at Portland’s Lewis & Clark College. As they write in the reissue’s liner notes, the project was initially less inspired by their K Records peers than by hook-heavy, kinda dweeby indie rockers like Weezer, Guided by Voices, and They Might Be Giants. Full of bouncy melodies and scrappy energy, Dear Nora’s first efforts channel the pure exhilaration of making music with your friends. But even these early sketches reveal the thoughtfulness that would define Dear Nora. On “Second Hand,” Davidson expresses astonishment at the neverending passage of time and uses the double meaning of the title to convey uncertainty. “Make You Smile” struggles with confrontation while “Up on the Roof” announces a plan to escape to a better life.

While Dear Nora features an evolving troupe of players, Davidson has always been the primary songwriter and sole permanent member, so their location and general state of being guides the project. In mid-1999, Davidson moved into a house alongside some Magic Marker labelmates. From an upstairs bedroom overlooking a cherry tree and a public park filled with squirrels, Davidson wrote and recorded eight short songs that would become 2000’s Dreaming Out Loud 7-inch. Featuring just Davidson, an acoustic guitar, and overdubs, these songs may be elementary, but they capture Dear Nora’s capacity to let a thought unravel into a miniature dissertation about their place in the world. Take “My Guitar,” which begins as an index of material objects and transforms into a philosophical mission statement: “’Cause how I want to live is effortless/And all I want to feel is not distressed/’Cause all I ever need is less and less every day.” And much like the Beach Boys song of the same name, “In My Room” pays tribute to solitude. As Davidson describes how the moonlight pouring in through a window pulls them into dreamland, “In My Room” feels comforting like a well-loved stuffed animal.

Beyond the bedroom were ample opportunities for inspiration, and as Davidson toured more, the scope of their observations expanded. The barely-there “Fargo” (written during a 2002 tour with Mates of State) envisions the titular city as a beacon of warmth amidst Midwestern sprawl and desolation. “Cheap liquor and cigarettes/Neon signs and off-track bets/Old Grand-Dad in the supermarket aisle/And all the kids in old Cadillacs,” Davidson sings, pulling a page from Springsteen. Meanwhile, a cover of “Girl From the North Country” transforms Dylan’s classic into a queer anthem of longing and nostalgia. But even as songs stretched their legs and experimented with lusher compositions, the themes remained familiar: transience, an appreciation for the natural world, and sincere awe at the world around them.

In 2004, Dear Nora released their opus, Mountain Rock. For that record, Davidson decamped to a geodesic dome in their home state of Arizona and recorded a series of windswept songs about the pleasures and pains of the sublime. Around the same time, Davidson, Jake Longstreth and Marianna Ritchey convened in a San Francisco basement to work on a series of songs that came to be part of what they referred to as “The Lost Album.” Several moments are siblings to songs that appeared on Mountain Rock, like “The Lonesome Border, Pt. 2.” In the Three States: Rarities 1997-2007 liner notes, Longstreth describes this as “a very Abbey Road kind of jam,” which is spot-on, from the familiar piano intro to the multi-tracked vocal harmonies. Though it features the same coyotes and jackrabbits as the understated version that made it onto the album, “The Original Mountain Rock” goes further in its search for meaning in the desert. “Down under clouds of thunder/My mind begins to wonder/If this night/Is a symbol or an end,” Davidson asks.

In 2017, after making music under other names, Davidson resurrected Dear Nora for a reissue of Mountain Rock. The reception to the record and tour was so positive that Davidson was inspired to release an album of new Dear Nora material, 2018’s Skulls Example. Though Davidson’s influence on a new generation has been well-documented, the reissue of Three States: Rarities 1997-2007 further cements Davidson’s role as a prolific and profound songwriter.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Dear Nora - Three States: Rarities 1997-2007 Music Album Reviews Dear Nora - Three States: Rarities 1997-2007 Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Wednesday, November 04, 2020 Rating: 5

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