MMS First Listen - 'Rooted in the Bone' by The Memphis Dawls

Nascent folk supergroup The Memphis Dawls released their debut LP Rooted in the Bone on hometown label Madjack Records on Tuesday. The trio at the heart of the group - Holly Cole (not the Canadian singer of the same name), Jana Misener, and Krista Wroten - have been writing together since high school, regrouped in 2010, and have been focusing their efforts on the Dawls after Cole completed a degree in sculpture in 2011. The result is an album that is gorgeously crafted, harmonies, strings, and a strong sense of negative space that result in an album that defies attempts at easy categorization.

The album draws obvious inspiration from the Trio project of Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton, and Linda Rondstadt, but builds on the vocal-focused template of those albums. The old-timey fiddle and hushed vocals of 'Shoot 'em Down' build to a horn-accompanied crescendo that owes as much to Rilo Kiley-era Jenny Lewis and Beirut as it does to country and bluegrass genres. The shimmering strings and plaintive piano riff that open 'Ride Alone' unfurl into a landscape beautiful in its desolation.

Alongside the clouds are sunnier numbers like the locomotive 'The Law', which explores the uncertainties and insecurities of a new love. The toe-tapping romp 'Where You'd Go My Love' pairs a boogie shack tempo to a lament about a lover lured by the charms of another.

The Dawls will roll through DC two weeks from today, playing Hill Country BBQ in Penn Quarter in a no cover show on November 20th. I'll leave you with 'Liar', a slow-burning ballad that builds to a bluesy inferno of a climax, vocals and horns soaring above the need and ache of the lyrics.