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Beautysleep

Tanya Donelly

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Album Review

The aptly named Beautysleep finds Tanya Donelly's creative muse refreshed and revitalized after the four-and-a-half-year stint between this and her solo debut, Lovesongs for Underdogs. However, this album bears little resemblance to Underdogs' slick, slight attempt at triple-A pop. Indeed, its best moments, such as "Another Moment," share the same sweetly spooky vibe that Donelly perfected with Belly, but also belie a stronger, more grounded sound and lyrical outlook. "In the beginning my love was fierce/now I sit with my babe at my breast/I was never this good at my best," she sings on "The Night You Saved My Life," and this domestic serenity seeps into most of Beautysleep's material. Songs like "The Storm," "Keeping You," and "The Wave" hew closer to traditional singer/songwriter conventions than Donelly's earlier work — and feature a slightly countrified twang to boot — but still retain enough of her trademark weirdness to make the album distinctive. Beautysleep's quirky, slightly trippy production adds another layer of interest, particularly on "Life is but a Dream" and "Moonbeam Monkey," which, despite its title, is an eerie, hypnotic duet with Morphine's late singer, Mark Sandman, and one of the highlights of Donelly's entire career. Similarly, moody tracks like "Wrap-Around Skirt" and "The Shadow" wouldn't sound out of place on a Belly album. While Beautysleep doesn't offer quite as many of the giddy peaks and valleys that made Star so enthralling, it's arguably Donelly's strongest and most consistent work since that landmark album.

Biography

Born: 14 July 1966 in Newport, RI

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

A founding member of three of the most successful bands of the post-punk era, singer/songwriter Tanya Donelly was born July 14, 1966, in Newport, RI. At the age of 16, she and stepsister Kristin Hersh formed Throwing Muses, which in 1985 became the first American band ever signed to the influential British label 4AD; not only did the Muses' dreamy, swirling guitar sound prove highly influential on many of the alternative acts to emerge in their wake, but they also made any number of unprecedented...
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Beautysleep, Tanya Donelly
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