Brandy Zdan first came to our attention as one half of Twilight Hotel whose fine album When The Wolves Go Blind we reviewed last year Lone Hunter is her debut solo release and is advance notice of her forthcoming UK tour (including a Scottish date at The Torpichen Inn, West Lothian on Saturday October 19) where she will be accompanied by Awna Teixeira of Po’ Girl and Cara Luft under the clumsy moniker of The ABC of Canadian Music. A six song strong mini album it truly is a solo effort as Zdan plays most of the instruments on the disc including guitar, percussion, lap steel, synthesiser and Wurlitzer. She is assisted by producer George Reiff on percussion and guitar on one song while Ricky Ray Jackson adds pedal steel to two others. In the vocal department Jamie Lin Wilson and Kelley Mickwee 0f The Trishas (with whom Zdan is a touring member) add backing vocals on O Where.
Zdan’s crystal voice rings throughout the disc and although she’s based in Texas these days several of the songs have that northern America/Canadian sense of frosty wide spaces that one imagines haunts artists from north of the 49th Parallel. The title song in particular is a bare boned haunting number that seems to be about loss and despair and an eventual longing to return to the earth and elements, perhaps an allusion to Into The Wild, a book about going into the wilderness to die.
This stark approach continues in I Remember When You Used To Love Me, a tear stained letter with dramatic percussion and Does Everything Break, another song about lost love that has a keening pedal steel that highlights the loneliness expressed in Zdan’s plaintive voice. Pedal steel is used to good effect again on O Where, another song of loss which features naive hope instead of despair as Zdan forlornly believes her baby will return “in summertime, when all is green.”
Two songs are more upfront in their delivery with an echo of the moodiness of her band Twilight Hotel on the opening song Mourning Dove (co-written with Dave Quanbury, the other half of the band) with its whammy guitar flourishes and noirish sensibility. Blood As The Ink stands apart from the other songs however as a burbling new wave like bass line and fuzzy guitar solos zip past in a flash somewhat disturbing the overall mood of the disc.