Folking.com reviews "A Game of Swans" ~ "People may talk about “pure” Americana but this is the real thing.". »
NANCY K DILLON – A Game Of Swans (Rose Rock Records RRR333)
People may talk about “pure” Americana but this is the real thing. A Game Of Swans is Nancy K Dillon’s third studio album, recorded, by the wonders of electronic communications, on both sides of the Atlantic with a group of musicians reflecting her British roots as well as her Seattle home. The final song, ‘Poor Man’s Lullaby’, for example, is co-written by Gavin Sutherland (with a brief nod to Woody Guthrie) and part recorded in Aberdeen. It features the pseudonymous J J “Breeze” Bridges and Levon “Hawk” Marvell – ho, ho, ho.
The first three songs are set explicitly in the 19th century. The first, ‘Dutchman’s Gold’, is the tale of a secret gold mine in Arizona’s Superstition Mountains. You just have to love a song like that. ‘St. Jude’, written by Drew Nelson and Janni Littlepage, tells of a woman leaving the old country for the new in search of her man who went on ahead and presumably found himself fighting in the Civil War. Jude is the patron saint of hope but he’s referred to here as the patron...more
"...well crafted and warming, like a familiar vintage coat on a fresh woodland walk" | **** 4 Stars
Nancy K Dillon - A Game of Swans (Rose Rock Records)
Nancy K Dillon has a warm, pure voice that you could listen to all night. There is that lilt that recalls a more Country Indigo Girls and some of Nancy Griffith's crystal purity. Dutchman's Gold shows her ability to weave stories out of touchstone lyrical elements to make textbook Americana. Nancy, strips back Drew Nelson's St Jude to its acoustic bones and invests it with a hymn like sense of light and hope. Annabelle has a great folk-blues pulse to its tune, gently played guitars from NKD and Chris Parks with a great foot stomp rhythm are hypnotic. With a touch of Townes Van Zandt's Waiting Round To Die, the tune and lyrics bring out the very best in Nancy's fine voice.
A Game Of Swans demonstrates that this is a Transatlantic album, recorded on both sides of the Atlantic in the US and the UK, with Michael Connolly's sweet Uilleann Pipes and Whistle playing....more
Nancy K. Dillon (from the album A Game of Swans)
The sonic quilt stitched for A Game of Swans, the latest release from Nancy K. Dillon, puts together its patchwork of songs to create a picture of the American West, and the journey of the steady stream of immigrants that created the foundation for America in 2018. A Game of Swans shares stories of miner’s lost claims (“Dutchman’s Gold”), tenderly sees the past on dusty shelves (“Ice & Bone”), watches shadows bleed colors together (“Annabelle”), marks off the last trip in a hobo’s travels (“Poor Man’s Lullaby), and finds flames rising in the darkness as the earth bargains for its coal (“Fire in the Hole”). Nancy K. Dillon is the storyteller for A Game of Swans, relating the words without judgment, accenting the troubles with deep emotion as her voice bends and curls against the weight carried in her tales. A winter breeze blows towards spring in the...more
Artist: Nancy K. Dillon
Album: A Game of Swans
Label: Rose Rock Records
It’s been close to 8 years since we’ve had new music from Seattle based singer-songwriter Nancy K. Dillon. Her fine album Game of Swans makes us hope it won’t be quite so long next time. Ms. Dillon’s voice remains flat out gorgeous – a dust-tinged Kate Wolf with the natural western lilt of Mary McCaslin. Come for the voice, but stay for the melodies and fictions that rise and fall like the stars over the lives of gold prospectors, tramps, and immigrants making their way through this sepia-toned American dream.more
Review of "Annabelle" video single from Oliver di Place Music Videos: "This video has great power in its simplicity, and I hope I would somehow have found it if it hadn't found me. The music is haunting, with a percussive pulse and basic backing guitar supporting Dillon's bluesy lead and understated vocal. The lyrics ask the listener to fill in details, so your interpretation may be different from mine. That is something great art can do, so I won't say anything to spoil it for you. The visual finds an amazing balance, providing concrete details while still leaving the viewer's imagination free to roam". #MusicVideo, #FolkMusic, #NancyKDillon...more
"An exquisite talent is allowed to prove herself in a relaxed environment" ~ Maverick UK ~ Russell Hill ~4-1/2 Stars (out of 5)
Growing up in the dusty plains of Oklahoma just six blocks away from Route 66, this closeness to one of America's legendary transportation highways must have made an impression on a young Nancy due to the evident quality on these eleven songs. Like other respected artists that were raised close to places of travel, her longing to get up on her feet and see what's out there is evident on many songs as are other subjects of life.
With an old timey feel in the same vein of the Carter Family, "Looks Like Rain" moves along at a fine pace and is in fact the best song on the album when you consider the originality of the accompaniment, in particular the fiddling and mandolin picking. "Portland" is sparsely done but this is to the song's benefit. It paints a delightful picture of the city which leaves its audience longing to visit its shores. Having no previous urge to visit this Oregon location it...
- "Concise and intelligent songs delivered in a clear and lovely voice"
Third Coast Music ~ John Conquest ~ Texas USA
No idea who Tom Petersen is but he's a clever, not to say, well-read, bastard. Covering "Just Let Me Dream" (Rose Rock 2004) in Victory Review, he said, "The fancy term for Dillon's kind of writing is mythopoeia." The word was coined in the 30's by JRR Tolkien to describe the process of integrating mythological themes and archetypes into fiction, and a clear example on the Oklahoma-born, Seattle-based Dillon's second album is 'Last Town on the Line' - discovering that her great-grandfather had been a Missouri-Pacific trainman, she got to wondering if he ever met hoboing Woody Guthrie. The later is also invoked on 'No Goodbyes', "I left my home in a yellow Rambler American/following the footsteps of Woody and Jack Kerouac," which also quotes Townes Van Zandt. Come to think, 'Snowin' On Raton' could well be seen as a key to Dillon's concise and intelligent songs that open with a lament for America's lost...
- "A well written and beautifully paced contemporary
bluegrass/folk/acoustic rock album."
Americana UK ~ Phil Edwards ~ UK
Okie Dokie Folkie
Opening with the strongest track on the album, ‘All The Pretty America’, Dillon releases her second album after a six year hiatus. Whilst the PR that accompanies this release enthuses madly about the album (as is their job), it doesn’t list the opener as a “recommended track”. Strange that, as it’s the one of the best here.
There are many descriptions to cover the gamut that makes up Americana these days, but here’s a couple used to described Dillon’s work that may be new to you; avant-garde folk (WTF?), okie-roots (WTF2?) and even mythopoeia (WTF3?.. it’s the process for creating myths apparently). Not only does Americana-UK inform but, we educate you. Bit like the BBC.
Dillon provides some useful song notes that explain where these songs come from and the thoughts behind...
- "Melodies that are quick to please the ear and slow to leave the memory...
A consistent delight"
Rambles.NET ~ Jerome Clark ~ USA
Nancy K. Dillon,
Roses Guide to Time Travel
(Rose Rock, 2010)
Nora Jane Struthers,
Nora Jane Struthers
(Blue Pig, 2010)
Here are two CDs by singer-songwriters you probably haven't heard of. Of course, I could say that about two of a whole lot of singer-songwriters. The difference: chances are, you'll fall in love with both of them by your second listening, and probably sooner. As I have had occasion to express in this space before, I'm as cynical about singer-songwriters as they come. I also tend to assume the good ones are the ones I already know. Believe me, it is good to be surprised once in a while.
Nancy K. Dillon and Nora Jane Struthers reside on opposite sides of the country (Portland, Ore., and Nashville, Tenn., respectively), and more than a few years separate their ages (Struthers looks barely in her 20s). But aside from a...
- "You’ll love the singing on ‘Glory Days,’ and in fact on the whole CD"
Victory Review ~ J W McClure ~ USA
I could say you had me at the cover for this CD. ‘All the Pretty America’ is a wonderful showcase of Nancy’s voice and wonderful use of harmonies. The melody line of the key phrase, not to mention the phrase itself, is intriguing. ‘Last Town on the Line’ is train song with the best of them and a little kinder to Woody, “life was hard for a trainman…” The vocals are powerful and the lyrics are well crafted. The rhythm and the instrumentals are as good as it gets: fiddle, slide guitar, mandolin. ‘No Goodbyes’ is another gem for lyrics and a fine chorus. It’s not hard to resonate with the sentiment of ‘Good Old Friends,’ or with the steady beat behind the lyrics of ‘Portland.’ You’ll love the singing on ‘Glory Days,’ and in fact on the whole CD. Catch Nancy whenever she passes through.
- Rootsville ~ SWA ~ Belgium
"Just let me dream ..... " No doubt "Sweet Honey" Nancy K. Dillon in 2004 dreamed of a very successful career and, to be honest, with "Just Let Me Dream" and valued contributions to the albums of other artists including Michael Hill, John Nelson, Gavin Sutherland, Ian Lang and MJ Bishop, there were legitimate reasons. Moreover, the lady from Seattle at that time captured my heart with her version of Jimmy Lafave's "Give Your Sweet Love To Me" – a fine cover. So we had to wait until now before the successor 'Roses Guide to Time Travel” saw the light…but…patience is a virtue and clean as the music brings a kind of pleasure which human nature can not do without.
Nancy K. Dillon clearly appreciated our repeated message to the singer/songwriters to include the lyrics on the album inlay and she was also kind enough to add a note to each original song of her authentic Okie-roots music. You can through CD Baby for the mere sum of $15 or $10 - in one ear- and eye-catching way - witness songs about...
- "A good year for the Roses"
NetRhythms (UK) ~ Mike Davies ~ April 2010
There's no explanation in the press release as to why there's been six years between the Oklaholma singer-songwriter's debut and her apostrophe-challenged sophomore album, so just be grateful that it's finally here. Featuring contributions from such musicians as Danny Barnes, Gavin Sutherland and Stacy Phillips, as before, it's a desert dust coated brew of bluegrass, folk, honky tonk, blues and country in service of songs about small towns, trains, highways, drifters, loving and losing, leaving and hanging in as, per the title, years pass by.
With a voice somewhere between Nanci Griffith, Judy Collins and the young Lucinda Williams, she opens the album with arguably its strongest song, the weary waltzing, concertina and banjo flecked All The Pretty Americans, an Obama dawn lament for a country's loss of innocence and a hope for its awakening from its sleep. While the focus may be micro rather than macro, it's a similar theme that...
- "stories of intriguing appeal on a substantial and inspired album"
The Long Journey Home ~ Remo Ricaldone ~ Italy
Raised from a musical family on the dusty plains of Oklahoma, Nancy K. Dillon knows her music enclosed in the spirit of nostalgia. A bit 'restless dreamer' and a bit provincial America, this album is really interesting to see as the quality combines with a musical vision of lucid and poetic material. During her career (this CD Roses Guide to Time Travel is six years in following her debut with the disc Just Let Me Dream) Nancy K. Dillon has shared the stage with great names like her countrymen Kevin Welch and Jimmy Lafave and then Guy Clark, Ray Wylie Hubbard, the Everly Brothers, the talented songwriter Gretchen Peters and Briton Clive Gregson, musicians who in one way or another have left a mark on her songwriting. The stories all have an intriguing appeal which contributes to the success of a substantial and inspired album. "Last Town On The Line" and "New Train"...
- "Austere simplicity....warmly recommended"
Rootstime ~ Valsam ~ Belgium
"Just Let Me Dream" was the title of the debut album which Seattle resident and singer-songwriter Nancy K. Dillon released to the world in 2004. She reaped a lot of positive criticism in the professional press but the large commercial success then nevertheless stayed away.
Six years it has been before a follow-up for that first album comes on the market. Now eleven tracks appear on Roses Guide To Time Travel with songs all composed by Nancy herself. Nancy K. Dillon grew up in a very musical family and has had the opportunity to share the stage in the past years with several artists such as Jimmy LaFave, Kevin Welch, Guy Clark and The Everly Brothers. They could make a broader public warm for her own country music and bluegrass inspired folksongs and this second cd can also count on more approval than her debut album.
The songs on this cd find her singing about different subjects. Thus she looks back musing on a pure and unspoiled America from her...