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CD REVIEW: Dafni - Drifting in Circles
By Kevin Zarnett - 11/15/2005 - 04:14 PM EST

Artist: Dafni
Album: Drifting in Circles
CD Review: Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Dafni's second album "Drifting in Circles", combines dream-like waltzes with jazzy-pop and folk tunes, to create a charming record that holds up to repeated spins.

The band set-up seems more typical of jazz, with drums, bass and piano frequently accompanying Dafni's acoustic guitar, adding able touches of accordion and trumpet to the mix. Of note, pianist Craig Bender offers up many tasty parts throughout the disc. Part of what works on the album, is how the band comes together to create many interesting and adventurous musical moments, sometimes within the same song, often heightening the transition from verse to chorus with cool rhythmic changes and melodic shifts. The later is most evident on the take-your-chances Latin groove of "Dance", and the switch from the slide guitar driven, bluesy opening of "Send My Love", to its heartfelt wishing chorus - a definite highlight.

"Norma" is the kind of song that could quiet down a noisy coffeehouse, while "Song for George" almost lets loose into a full-fledged pop song, keeping a toe in jazzy water. The breezy "One Day" showcases a banjo as a breath of fresh air, with a welcoming, almost old-timey feel. Further, amidst a handful of dreamy songs, there is also the carefree jazz of lazing about on a "Saturday".

Dafni's voice is likeable and inviting, especially in the quieter moments, though by no means ever close to strong and overpowering (though that type of singing isnít really called for on this set of tunes). Despite a couple of pitch issues here and there, she never lets her daring melodies down.

The album's title, "Drifting in Circles" seems quite appropriate, as many of songs deal with a kept-up-late type of pondering, examining relationships, asking questions - usually of someone distant, struggling to let go and move on.

This is the case with the album's fine opening track "Blue-Eyed Boy". On this song, and throughout the CD, there's a hint of the flavour that has made Sam Phillips' last two records so intoxicating. Here, Dafni subtly exposes us to some of the heartbroken, mysterious, and unresolved feelings that recur in the album. The imagery used is pretty straightforward, but there are no throwaway lines, even when we get repeated loss or dream language, it usually is in a different shade, ranging from uncertainty to optimism, and dreaming to remembering.

There is nothing stunning about the sound here, but there is a nice clarity, and it is good to hear a singer-songwriter disc that has the vocals up-front in the mix. And wisely, the CD runs just under 40 minutes, which left me eager to revisit some favourite tracks, and ready to re-play the entire album to discover some more.

For more information on Dafni, visit www.dafni.us

To buy "Drifting in Circles" visit:
www.dafni.us/music
CD Baby
Tower Records


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