Dust & Ashes: Bone to Pick
review by: Becky Huskins
photo: Graham Morrison
Confession: I have a musical crush on Dust & Ashes. To see and hear them live is truly its own reward but listening to their lush first album, Bone to Pick, made me hear more than I’d ever gotten in a club. Their style is hard to pin down, but simply calling it Americana or folk doesn’t do it for this quintet. I think what moves me is the full swelling of such beautiful vocals mixed with a complicated instrumentation while telling a story; from childhood tragedies in Queen Betty, to growing up and figuring yourself out in Exit Plan. Heather Himes crafts a song as superb in its beauty as in its tragedy.
I was driving through upstate South Carolina just as the sun was setting while I listened to Bone to Pick for the first time. This record was writing my own personal Southern gothic novel with tales of infatuation in Over the Moon right down to having just about enough with the title track in itself. By the time you finish the CD, which I suggest playing through in its entirety without shuffling to reach its full climactic impact, you will feel like you’ve watched a wonderfully well-crafted movie of a life…..maybe even your own.
To gain the complete sincerity of D&A is to see them live. Each woman in the group brings her own personal talent that makes these songs come alive; the sonorous flute and harmonies of Jude Salinas, the trance-like heart-beating percussion of Tiffany Goodman, Leah Erin Smith’s gorgeous cello melodies, Alea Tuttles heartbreaking vocals and piercing viola all tied together by Heather Himes haunting balladeering turn these songs into moments and the moments into memories.
While Redneck Dyke has garnered enough attention and even a little radio airplay to be considered the break out hit of the record, I think my favorite would have to be Have Heart. The harmonies sound like sweet but firm marching orders: “keep your hopes high, keep your head low, keep your eyes closed, mind your manners, mind your studies, mind your mother, to church on Sunday…..” Sweet lord, that song is about empowerment, but not the kind most of us women are used to hearing. Maybe it takes a group of headstrong and talented women to say the things we’ve all been saying to ourselves.
Put this album on your device and listen on your next drive……maybe a couple of times. By the time you get to your destination two things will probably have happened: you will either be deeply in love with or completely over your loved one and you will never be satisfied to listen to boring old terrestrial radio again… and if you give up on both you probably won’t miss either one the least little bit.
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