Song is effectively language, a transmission of ideas via rhythm, tone and accent. Not just the vocals, but each the unique sound each instrument makes is its own vocabulary. When a guitar strums or a piano rings out, we understand the intention behind those tones, whether they are strong or weak, whether there is hope or fear in the selection of notes. When multiple languages intertwine, each one carefully selected and employed for its unique timbre and property, we get symphonies of emotion, unforgettable moments of sonic light and color.
Singer Songwriter Fiona Dawn has understood the link between language and song since an early age. A young woman raised in both America and Taiwan, switching between the tonal rhythms of Mandarin Chinese and the broad inflections of English became second nature. Both languages are complex in their own ways: English’s contextual rules and requirements are notoriously finicky, while Chinese comprehension lives and dies by the tone of pronunciation. Fiona Dawn understands the importance of both syntax and tone, and her debut EP, Tricks of the Trade, is a deft application of this lesson. Sung in both Chinese and English, Fiona Dawn’s jazzy, soulful compositions maneuver between both languages deftly, employing each set of cadent tools with precision and specific purpose, while still sounding like a part of the same body of work.
The song “Love Drug” is the second of her’s to get the video treatment. The lyrics revel in the intoxicating confusion of attraction, the recognition that the attraction she feels is a ridiculous bit of body chemistry but also very spiritual at the same time. The video, with it’s juxtaposition of nature and science, echoes this sentiment.
Fiona Dawn will be having an EP release party at Barboza on March 5th (full disclosure, I’m opening for this show), along with Susy Sun and PhilHarmonic. She will also be making the trek down to SXSW Music Festival in Austin this year with many of Seattle’s other musically talented kin.