Losing your voice would be a terrifying experience for anyone, let alone a singer who had recently released their debut album. This nightmare situation intermittently afflicted Dana Gavanski for a year after ‘Yesterday is Gone’ was released. It was her luscious voice that had first attracted attention, initially striking for its similarities to Cate Le Bon, being gorgeous and emotive without being histrionic. Other influences, though, were at play as evident on her subsequent ‘Wind Songs’ EP covering songs by King Crimson, Tim Hardin, Judee Sill and Chic via Robert Wyatt.

Putting together her second album, ‘When It Comes’, was a process of Gavanski searching for ways to excite herself back into song writing. Consequently, whereas ‘Yesterday Is Gone’ was a highly-satisfying collection of relatively straight-forward pop songs, ‘When It Comes’ expands her palette. 

Opener ‘Kiss the Night’ sees her “build a fortress in my mind” to rolling piano melodies, lush but vulnerable, a definite pleasurable ear-worm and an indication that musical development is not at the expense of tunes. ‘Bend Away & Fall’ is baroque, Wurlitzer-like and enchanting, gently enveloping in its sound.

If there was a competition for the album’s loveliest melody, ‘Letting Go’ would emerge triumphant from a high quality field as Gavanski grapples with her feelings, ”I thought I saw my solitude/End its hour of grieving/…the summer’s nearly gone/I never liked it anyway/ The sun so hot”. Changing one letter transforms what would otherwise be a lyrical cliché into a less dependent sentiment for the refrain, “I heed your love”.

‘Under the Sky’ builds upon a keyboard hum and tangles with the intangibles of “memories I can’t even bring to mind” as it develops into a song reminiscent of Broadcast at their most pop and has echoes of Trish Keenan’s voice in Gavanski’s singing.

Ideas for the album were sketched out on her toy Casiotone and this becomes most apparent on the next pair of tracks. ‘The Day Unfolds’ has her “losing my way”, the verses having an unconventional rhythmical pulse which blends into a more melodic chorus with tootling sax from Dan Leavers of the Comet is Coming added to the mix. ‘Indigo Highway’ starts like Kraftwerk by way of ‘Phoenix Nights’ but quickly builds a journeying momentum to banish such comparisons. These tracks have a sense of image and atmosphere that could reflect her father, Ogden Gavanski, being a film producer and Dana starting film school before deciding to pursue music.

‘Lisa’ has a darker organ sound that becomes more expansive as the song develops. It is written from the sea’s perspective as the protagonist passes daily, a recognition of how humans ignore the natural world’s beauty being too busy in the bustle of their lives.

Beginning with stabbing guitar lines that immediately takes us “inside the wreckage”, ‘The Reaper’ is one of her more angular tracks, combining with vocal yelps to produce a meeting point of folk and Captain Beefheart. The final track, ‘Knowing to Trust’ starts with a one-note hum as she quietly poses questions, “am I howling too loud?/… am I losing my shape?” and retains its poise as the song slowly develops. 

‘When It Comes’ sees Gavanski regain and trust her voice on an album which is a constant delight.

Dana Gavanski: When It Comes – Out 29th April 2022 (Full Time Hobby)

I was editor of the long-running fanzine, Plane Truth, and have subsequently written for a number of publications. While the zine was known for championing the most angular independent sounds, performing in recent years with a community samba percussion band helped to broaden my tastes so that in 2021 I am far more likely to be celebrating an eclectic mix of sounds and enthusing about Made Kuti, Anthony Joseph, Little Simz and the Soul Jazz Cuban compilations as well as Pom Poko and Richard Dawson.