Sarah Dougher Day One

Portland-based singer/songwriter Sarah Dougher navigates the same sonic turf as Liz Phair, Lois and Spinanes leader Rebecca Gates, but she knows some back alleys and short cuts that led her muse into fertile new terrain. On her debut solo album, Dougher sings about sex and travel, heroes and villains and seasons in the sun. Balancing the excitement of a road-trip ("40 Hours") with the despair of watching someone leave ("Moving"), Day One’s 12 songs flow on a even keel, with the good times serving as ballast for the bad. Dougher has one of the best singing voices in indie pop and she doesn’t shy away from using it to full effect. Placed front and centre on these songs, it allows the listener to get caught up in these emotive narratives. The disc’s sparse mix of guitar-driven indie pop sees Dougher joined occasionally by guitarist Jon Reuter (Primadonnas) and drummer Janet Weiss (Quasi/Sleater-Kinney). Her brother Nick plays the accordion on a couple of tracks and the mix for "Drunk #1" strings along a cello and violin to nice effect. Formerly a member of Veronica and the Lookers and more recently part of electro-rock outfit the Crabs and bubblegum duo Cadallaca, Dougher has mined all manner of indie pop styles to exploit a variety of sonic possibilities. Here she plays a brand of folk rock that touches base with Carole King’s Tapestry and early Joni Mitchell. A sparse, sincere cover of the Eagles "Take It To The Limit" comes as an unlikely highlight on this solid outing. (K)