Danni Smith goes by the moniker Juneblood. She recently released Moonbeam which is an extremely dismal and melancholy EP which revolves around her vocals and usually one other instrument.
Smith is a young woman and I have to say that this genre isn’t exactly easy to pull off. Unless you're Johnny Cash, Grouper or Tom Waits, making music this sad can come off as melodramatic and saccharine. Throughout Moonbeam she goes between moments hitting the right frequency of beauty and melancholy and others where it feels more like a journal of a young person that will eventually get out out of this self-loathing stage.
Perhaps her best attempt is on the very first song entitled “December.” The song is simple, revolving around basic guitar chords. I was drawn to the vocals. The best moments are the vocal harmonies where there is a tinge of hope and beauty amongst the melancholy. I was reminded of the band Low. I think this song in particular should be a foundation for her sound. Great song. If there was some additional background instruments I think the song may have even been better.
“MERCY III” is harder for me to appreciate. She strums and delivers spoken word poetry. It reminded me too much of my college days fifteen years ago of philosophy students who knew how to play guitar and wanted to play at a open mic. She recites the words, “It's nothing you've said but everything you've done. I saw the headlights and I walked towards them / Maybe I am who they said I would be / There was a green lantern behind the hill.”
“Miel llanto” is another distinct deviation. Here she distorts her guitar and presents a distinctly different singing style. It reminded me of the band Hole. The song has its moments but it still comes far from the beauty of the opening track.
“Estuvimos cerca de Pozuelo de Alarcón” is one of the highlights. It contains a banjo that is strummed like a guitar. The banjo is there to support the vocals. This is an example of her vocals working. They are on par with the opening track and really make the song. She closes with another success entitled “5:17 a.m. (home soon).” The vocals are coated with melancholy and work because of the various layers of emotion.
There are some obvious missteps on this EP but more successes. Smith is a young artist who still has a lot of time to evolve. The first and last three tracks are the direction I hope she builds on.
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