Fate deals Calgary songwriter Danielle French a winning hand for latest album

In the case of Calgary musician Danielle French, that place was in a motel in the small town of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin of all places. And every day and in many ways, she’s thankful for what fate had in store once she got there. “It’s certainly changed my life as a writer,” French says, while sitting in Inglewood pub Swans. As to what got her there, well, a little bit of backstory is required... 

Danielle French - Miss Scarlett & The Madmen: Dark Love Songs
7 out of 10 stars- "A fine set of unsettling folk reveries."
daniellefrench

A filmmaker and songwriter from Calgary in Canada, Danielle French delivers here nine songs she crafted while attending a series of songwriters’ workshops, the songs co-writes with fellow attendees and for the most part recorded with her co writers. Despite this plethora of contributors French keeps a firm hand on the tiller to deliver a strong set of songs that can probably be best described as slightly psychedelic folk with some dusty Americana and Weimer Republic cabaret thrown in for good measure.

Raven has the appropriate, slightly husky, voice for this adventure and the settings; chamber strings, glockenspiel, autoharp, accordion and humming wine glass rims allied to bursts of regular percussion and twanged guitar conjure up a fine dislocation of the senses. A carnival of sounds. She is seductive on the turbulent reveries of “Take My Love” and bawdy on “This Is Why We Drink,” a song that does recall Tom Waits’ days in a Singapore dive with only Marc Ribot for company. “Did You Want Me” sweeps along with the desert urgency of Calexico’s Ballad Of Cable Hogue and the closing instrumental, “Last Goodbye,” is a lysergic rabbit hole that could grace the end credits of anyone from Leone and Jodorowsky to Tarantino.  At the very least it’s an intriguing listen.

Dark Desire

A little bit of torch, a dash a tin pan alley and a polychromatic splash of Nick Cave-style backroads goth, and perhaps we're starting to get close to what Danielle French is trying to do here. She processes her vocals into that slightly scratchy, slightly echoey territory that was well-worn by a wide swath of 50s vamps. Then she drops in her lushly-arranged songs, and the result is a sumptuous bed of pleasure.


 
Danielle French
Miss Scarlett and the Mad Men
(self-released)

The sound is familiar and enthrallingly unique all at once. French mixes her influences into a perky, doomy and thoroughly modern mixmash of Marty Robbins and Julie London. I've heard all of this before, but never presented with such presence and panache.

These are indeed dark love songs, but they are alluring and not depressing. This is not breakup music, but rather an album to play while getting out the leather and chains. Riding crop required, not optional.

The kink here is the mainstream production. French doesn't make her music sound weird. This is as straightforward and muscular a sound as will be heard on an album this year. French simply makes sure that her ideas bring the pleasurable little twists of pain.

It's been a long time since I've had such a rush of joy and fun. If you and your sweetie aren't exactly conventional lovers, French has your soundtrack. Just don't wake the kids.

Danielle French - Miss Scarlett & The Madmen: Dark Love Songs
3.9 out of 5 stars

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Have you ever seen the movie Dusk till Dawn? Quentin Tarantino didn’t know the perfect soundtrack for this movie would come out 2016. That album being Miss Scarlett and the Madmen: Dark Love Songs by Danielle French. There are too many reasons to point out why I think this music mimics that movie from the imagery to the tone. Luckily, this album does not need a movie to be throughly enjoyed.

​The production is exceptional along with the delivery. It’s an album full of lush instrumentation but is ultimately propelled by the vocals. That lush instrumentation is apparent on the first track “Last Goodbye.”  A veil of atmosphere is pierced by guitars as the vocals drift on top of the music. The song has a sense of dark mystery to it. I thoroughly enjoyed the mood...
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Danielle French Presents...Miss Scarlett and the Madmen “Dark Love Songs”

This is an unusual and intriguing album. It’s also one that’s likely to make my “best of 2016” list. I’ve included this under progressive rock, but I can see some people arguing with that label. It certainly fits from a creative point of view. It’s also very similar to some of the dark prog coming out these days. Admittedly there is a definite Gothic texture to this, along with a lot of psychedelia and world music. Whether you agree with the prog label or not, though, you really should give this a try. It’s a very special album...

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Danielle French - Miss Scarlett & The Madmen: Dark Love Songs 

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The product of a rare communal songwriting experience, Danielle French’s Dark Love Songs is a nine song collection emanating from the wilds of northern Wisconsin. French has traveled to the city of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin to visit the Holiday Music Motel and participate in the intensive songwriting clinics founded by Timbuk3 member Pat MacDonald. The clinics use a “spin the bottle” approach to pair various artists together randomly for writing, performance, and recording with the hopes that magic emerges from these collaborations. French developed Dark Love Songs over the course of four years and the finished work ranks certainly as not only one of the more imaginative efforts anyone will hear in 2016, but one of the more original works from an American songwriter in recent memory (Artist's Note- Danielle French is technically a Canadian artist)...

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Danielle French - Miss Scarlett & The Madmen: Dark Love Songs
9 out of 10 stars

In Short Words...

Dark Love Songs easily rates among the year’s best albums from anyone. There’s rare creativity and daring here that makes the work a charged listening experience. It isn’t just some sonic mope fest either. There is emotional depth here that never flirts with melodrama and features superb musical talents...

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Danielle French - Miss Scarlett & The Madmen: Dark Love Songs
9 out of 10 stars
daniellefrench
Some albums win you over quick with their commitment alone. The fact Danielle French persevered with the recording of Dark Love Songs over a four year time frame, returning each time to the same location to continue recording, signals this is an artist absolutely convinced she has something to say.
The hit and run recording schedule might spook some potential listeners into believing Dark Love Songs, in terms of performance and songwriting, is a scattershot affair with variable quality. There is no need to worry. There is an uniformity of merit on this release that never relents for even a song – French clearly entered the studio each time with a clear vision or arrived at it, in cahoots with her collaborators, soon after embarking on each individual journey...

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Danielle French - Miss Scarlett & The Madmen: Dark Love Songs 
(Independently released CD, Pop)


Although not yet widely known, Calgary's Danielle French has been creating music now for about two decades. Ms. French's music is moody and slightly peculiar and has been compared to classic artists like Kate Bush and Tom Waits.

 

The strangely-titled Miss Scarlett & The Madmen: Dark Love Songs might just be the album to catapult Danielle's career to the next level. Most of these tracks were recorded at two different locations in Wisconsin, but one ("Splinters") was recorded in Calgary and another ("Black Sunday) was recorded at Peter Gabriel's Real World Studio in England. French has a rather amazing voice. She's able to conjure up images and feelings that go far beyond the words she's singing.

 

This is a short album that clocks in at just over twenty-six minutes. Nine impeccably recorded tunes including "Last Goodbye," "Black Sunday," and "This Is Why We Drink."

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Danielle French - Miss Scarlett & The Madmen: Dark Love Songs
9 out of 10 stars

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The power of Danielle French’s nine song collection Dark Love Songs lies in its chameleon like ability to reshape itself at will and redefine a host of familiar tropes. There is nothing new under the sun. However, French has chosen to search the shadows for something new and discovered a distinctive style pulling from an assortment of fields, but never settling for long into any sort of laziness...

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Danielle French - Miss Scarlett & The Madmen: Dark Love Songs
9 out of 10 stars

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Danielle French has always impressed devoted fans of indie singer/songwriters as a composer and performer comfortably at home with taking artistic chances. Her latest release Dark Love Songs is born from chance and takes wild swings at greatness that invariably connect. The risk taking began in the city of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin where French participated in four annual songwriting clinics affording the opportunity to work with a variety of unexpected collaborators on this new collection. The clinics randomly paired French with a variety of other participants and the new found songwriting partnerships often produced unexpected and bracing results. The nine songs on this album are products of those partnerships, but the songs are always brightly burning examples of her own temperament and ambition...

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Danielle French - Miss Scarlett & The Madmen: Dark Love Songs

8 out of 10 stars

Danielle French Presents Miss Scarlett and the Madmen in Dark Love Songs is, undoubtedly, one of the longest album titles this reviewer has encountered in a while. The nine songs on this release, however, are models of the form in terms of conciseness and length. French wastes little time, as a composer, belaboring with extended melodic treatments and every musical move serves some larger compositional purpose. She never overindulges with song length and the running order of tracks clearly illustrates a higher purpose to her sequencing. French’s youth shouldn’t fool anyone. Despite the album’s collaborative nature and birth, French is a singular talent working well beyond her years. The vocals on this album will impress even the most jaded of music fans...

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Danielle French - Miss Scarlett & The Madmen: Dark Love Songs
8 out of 10 stars

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The career of Canadian born singer/songwriter Danielle French has been marked since its beginning by its restless, antsy creative spirit. Her name has graced the cover of five releases since her 1995 start and the latest, Dark Love Songs, ranks as her most daring and fully realized yet. The nine song collection is the product of songwriting clinics sponsored by Pat MacDonald, former singer of the 1980’s art-pop duo Timbuk3. The latest release, unsurprisingly, sports an eclectic range and never stays pinned down for long. French has a fondness for exploring recognizable genres in distinctive ways, always filtered through the transformative vehicle of her own personality, and Dark Love Songs is no different. It has a remarkably retro air while sounding completely modern – the musical theater trappings of the songs are brilliantly captured while the array of more modern musical influence seamlessly weaves its way through each of the tracks...

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Danielle French - Miss Scarlett & The Madmen: Dark Love Songs
9 out of 10 stars

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Canadian native Danielle French has a musical and performing talent cutting across multiple genre lines. There is a great deal of Renaissance and Celtic flavored folk, but there’s likewise a smattering of blues, pop, and even rock and roll powering the nine song release. French is unafraid to experiment with ambient structures some and her dabbling is never without purpose – it adds immeasurably to key selections. The production quality has impressive uniformity but also a specificity on each track elevating them to signature parts of a larger and greater whole. It’s really a skillful balancing act and extends even further. None of the songs play as some spotlight moment towering over the rest – instead, French aims for home runs on every song and doesn’t miss once. It’s a memorable feat...

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Danielle French - Miss Scarlett & The Madmen: Dark Love Songs
4 out of 5 stars
 

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The high brow musical theater musings of Danielle French aren’t so far removed from the common listeners’ experience that they are inaccessible. This is a crucial component in the success of her release Dark Love Songs. She accomplishes this by holding tight to her melodic virtues and never lapsing too deeply into self-indulgence. There is a decidedly theatrical quality casting an enormous influence over Dark Love Songs and French isn’t shy about incorporating ambient sound effects, but these are never merely vehicles for conveying a stagy concept. French and her collaborators demonstrate a deep musicality that informs the nine songs on her latest effort and it makes it all that much more memorable of a listening experience...

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Danielle French - Miss Scarlett & The Madmen: Dark Love Songs
9 out of 10 stars

Great things often spring from inauspicious beginnings. The nine song release from Danielle French entitled Dark Love Songs might not seem, after first listen, that it emerged from an essentially egalitarian songwriting clinic in northern Wisconsin. Over the course of four years, the experienced singer/songwriting French attended intensive songwriting clinics in the town of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin convened by Timbuk3 songwriter Pat MacDonald and worked with a variety of musicians to help shape and, ultimately, record the songs on this album. The unusual methods through which they arrived at these collaborations, by random lottery, might suggest to some that the release lacks cohesion or a sense of songwriting unity. It is clear, however, that French and her cohorts were never working at cross purposes and, instead, quickly arrived at a mutually shared vision for how each song should turn out...

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GETTING TO KNOW DANIELLE FRENCH

by Jacqueline Jax host of A.V.A Live Radio

Jacqueline Jax

Danielle FrenchDanielle French

I’ve been in the music business for over 20 years now
and it has changed drastically over this time period. You used to have to rely on a record label to sign you to get your music out as an artist. These days an artist can feasibly record and release their own music without a label. But this has also meant that the artist needs to perform all the business functions to promote their careers themselves- from publicity to web design to tour booking to social media and more. For myself, I am only one person and have found it impossible to do each “business” task at the level it needs to be done to effectively promote my career. And it takes away from the time I want to spend becoming a better artist! Quite the dilemma!

I have come to accept the reality of the industry in this day and age and have made a conscious decision that I want to continue to write, record and release my music for other reasons than strictly financial (or chasing fame). Creating music is a way I connect with and express my creative source and I find the process of writing to be magical and rewarding in and of itself. I love touring because it gives me a chance to travel and be part of a broader community- I get to meet some amazing people and see some amazing sites. And I am constantly learning more about the business to understand better how your music makes money in order to hone in on opportunities the best I can with the resources I have...

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Interview: Danielle French

How would you classify your music?

Adult Alternative/ Dark Cabaret / Dark Folk – “Beautiful Strangeness”.

Who are some of your top 5 musical influences?

Tom Waits, Kate Bush, Leonard Cohen, Tori Amos, Eleni Mandell,

What do you want fans to take from your music?

I am drawn to the darkness. We all have a shadow self that I feel is often denied or repressed in our culture, but it is part of our psyches and only acts out stronger when repressed. Through exploring in the darkness in my music, my intent is to consciously or subconsciously speak to the shadow self of listeners, putting them in touch with the darker elements of the psyche through resonance with the music. It is only through acknowledging the dark that we can transform it into the light (by shining the light of consciousness)...

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Danielle French presents Miss Scarlett and The Madmen - Dark love songs (2016) Independent
3 out of 5

Produced by Danielle French / Tom Gordon
ALTERNATIVE FOLK ROCK
Tracks : 1.Last goodbye 2.Take my love 3.Did you want me 4.It must be roses 5.Black sunday 6.Splinters 7.My shadow and me 8.This is why we drink 9.Last goodbye (instrumental)
www.daniellefrench.com
Calgary, Canada based singer / songwriter Danielle French debuted with "Me, myself and I" in 1995 and 2 decades later she releases the 5th album "Dark love songs" together with the musical collective Miss Scarlett and The Madmen. Listening to the new album feels like going down in the dungeons of London and hearing the horrific tales of Jack The Ripper and other dark historic events. It´s easy to believe that Danielle is heavily influenced by artists like Kate Bush, Dalbello and Nick Drake. The sound is built on Irish folk music and gothic romantic pop. A lovely mix. Perhaps not the best suitable music for the children´s party but just perfect for halloween, it´s a short album but a beautiful short album.

Highlights: Did You Want Me, This is Why We Drink 

Recommended if you like Marianne Faithful, PJ Harvey, A Camp

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