Dearspeak goes beyond the relationship ballads of a Cosmo-fueled culture to occasionally address the world outside domestic distress. However, there still seems to be some hesitation that prevents Tame the Hysteria from entirely escaping the trite. Present is the threat of emotional peril while the gusto to toss oneself into danger’s path remains elusive. The EP’s tone of lament may be the result of either love suffered or the fear of failing superseding the abandon required for grandeur.
Many local bands would be wise to take a lesson from Dearspeak’s professional approach to songcraft. Frontfemme Ree Boado leads the charge with her concurrently sweet and smoky voice and also contributes keys and guitar. Bassist/guitarist Benjamin Tietgen and drummer Justan Jesse provide the structure and support that takes Dearspeak from coffee shop emotive to radio ready. The carefully-however-ironically-controlled distortion hidden beneath amiable melodies heard in songs like “Island in Your Head” don’t quite achieve edgy. Yet playful vocal flourishes on “We Lose” thoughtfully mimic the childlike lyrical tone, proving the songwriting effort in Dearspeak is thoughtfully undertaken.
What the listener is left with is emotionally-accessible, soft-rocking folk following the tradition of Jewel, Sarah McLachlan, and Alanis Morissette. This needn’t be taken as a diminutive reference. While it has led to singers like KT Tunstall, Meredith Brooks, and Michelle Branch it has also brought us Jenny Lewis and Regina Spektor.
There is a place for the anguished, the forlorn, and the lovesick. Tame the Hysteria doesn’t quite make it there but it does meander down the road a ways. Ree and the fellas of Dearspeak are capable performers and I expect their sophomore release will find them further along the path.
The name Dearspeak might seem to suggest another cutesy-pie indie band. However, after listening to the band’s first release Tame the Hysteria, it more appropriately implies the longed-for response of a lover.