Dakota Suite have quietly built up an extensive back catalogue since the mid 1990s. Their latest, An Almost Silent Life is by my estimation their 13th full length. It’s also a step away from their recent esoteric releases, back towards more conventional guitar music.
Chris Hooson’s vocals do not dominate on these songs, far from it. He prefers to allow his thin, fragile voice to blend in with the rest of the instruments as part of a whole. The mood throughout the album is doggedly downbeat, right from the opening track I See Your Tears. Hooson’s slow electric guitar is framed by a rhythm section which trudges along wonderfully. If You’ve Never Had To Run Away, featuring Quentin Sirjacq on piano is very solemn indeed, as is the acoustic title track.
Everything Lies is highly emotive, with piano flourishes accompanied by David Buxton’s pedal steel guitar. The album is punctuated by instrumentals such as Lumen, Waneer de Pijn Ons Doet Scheiden, and the Joni Mitchell evoking Top Rocker which feel playful amongst the many sad songs. A cello gives A Comfortable Lie extra poignancy, as do Laura Donohue’s backing vocals on Don’t Cry.
If it sounds like a difficult listen, then I haven’t told the whole of the story. The songs are heartfelt but rather than wallow in misery they exude a gentle melancholy, perfect for staring out of the window. Dakota Suite’s small army of followers will adore this, and for the rest of you, you could do worse than check this out.