"Living in Dreams" - 2008
Singer, songwriter and performer Sandy Dillon starts her new album with a wonderful blues classic by Memphis Minnie: „Can’t Afford To Lose That Man“. A line that might make her fans’ blood freeze. It’s no secret Sandy Dillon lost her husband and creative partner Steve Bywater from a heart-attack in 2001. But memories are not all there is to Sandy Dillon’s personal life these days. Far from it. After trying times she’s now married again. Guitarist Ray Majors has been a fixture on stage with her, now he’s a partner in real life as well.
After the painful loss of her husband, there was more hardship yet to come for the expatriate American in London: a bout with cancer, the hugely dangerous MRSA virus and a severe auto immune disorder. These illnesses took a number of years out of Sandy Dillon’s life. She became a patient in an old Victorian hospital for longer than she cares to remember, visitors were required to use mask protection when seeing her. But ultimately, this is a story of survival and the acclaimed „Pull The Strings“ album (2006) became Sandy’s first artistic chronicle of what had happened to her. She may have been weak physically, but her spirit was far from broken. The experience lingers on, however. On LIVING IN DREAMS she dissects with pitchblack humor some dark events of the past. So yet again, this new album is about confrontation rather than escape, a long hard stare into the abyss. „Goin’ Down Hades / Gonna Have Myself Some Fun / Goin’ To Heaven / Gonna Get Myself Relief“. Sandy Dillon was raised Catholic, so she’s well equipped spiritually for deconstructing the blues, a place where you can’t really escape the devil. So get ready to enjoy LIVING IN DREAMS, the latest blues mutations by Sandy Dillon.
„You can’t travel out of your own head“, Sandy Dillon says, i.e.past experiences are stored internally and continue to project into the present. As in song # 2 on this album: „Graves“ – a name, a tombstone, a feeling, a place in time. Sandy Dillon apparently has a fascination for the final moment, the white light at the end of the tunnel. She’s seen it herself in hallucinatory out-of-body experiences while ill, in fact. Redemption might not be close at hand, but what remains is the healing force of music. According to the artist it’s available for everyone who cares enough to feel it.
A true blues classic comes next: „Bad Luck Blues“ – lyrical elements of Blind Lemon Jefferson and Robert Johnson linked together in a new adaption of a tune first recorded in Chicago by Blind Lemon in 1926. The hoodoo blues of old revisited by Sandy Dillon in a recording studio in Bremen/Germany some eighty years later, joined by Ray Majors (ex-Mott The Hoople, Yardbirds) and London avant multi-talent David Coulter (http://www.myspace.com/davidcoulter). David also produced and brought quite a singular set of musical tools along for the job: jew’s harp, musical saw, nose flute, homemade percussion… Feel objects all of them, to be musically organised like life and like breath.
Sandy Dillon grew up in Cape Cod, Massachussetts - „Kennedy Country“. She started studying classical piano at age six, later got a degree from the Berklee School Of Music in Boston („Traditional Composition For Orchestral Music“). She split for New York City at age twenty, played the piano in underground bars, lived at the Chelsea Hotel, recorded two never-released albums with legendary rocker Mick Ronson and hit the Broadway stage as Janis Joplin. In the mid-Eighties she eventually crossed the ocean for London and decided to stay. Finally, after a number of false starts, her debut album „Electric Chair“ saw the light of day to great critical acclaim. „East Overshoe“, „Las Vegas Is Cursed“, „Nobody’s Sweetheart“ and „Pull The Strings“ followed.
In the spring of 2000 Sandy Dillon starts performing live in continental Europe, where audiences quickly adopt her, especially in Germany and Belgium. Critics mention influences by Tom Waits, Captain Beefheart and jazz when discussing Sandy’s music. She likes to also give a nod to Dylan, Joplin and Hank Williams. Continental audiences instantly appreciate the shamanistic quality of her unique voice, her penchant for minimalist arrangements, her intense originality. A black-humored DIY punk ethos runs through her work as an undercurrent. Sandy Dillon is all about musical deconstruction and emotional authenticity. Music as a means for survival.
Billy Ed Wheeler’s „High-Flying Bird“ was once sung by the early Sixties New York Queen of Beatniks Judy Henske, Grace Slick and Jefferson Airplane followed. A bird in flight symbolizing freedom, put in stark contrast with a depressed singer. But then the everlasting cycle of nature becomes effective, offering new meaning. Life as a circle and the power of memory. In Sandy Dillon’s musical memory there’s apparently a lot of room for folk greats like Dave Van Ronk or Leo Kottke. Artists who have always stayed true to themselves. She still loves classic jazz as well and Duke Ellington’s „Chocolate Shake“ follows. The Jazz Age bathed in sounds of distortion to bring out a new sense of beauty that may have been hidden before. Then it’s „Saliva Gland“ – a trip into the blackness. A notion of the fleeting quality of life where the body becomes an enemy and the pain is overwhelming. A medical blues mutation followed by another take on the blues tradition: Brownie McGhee’s „Sporting Life Blues“, stripped bare and raw all over again.
A beautiful ballad finishes off the album - „Living In Dreams“. Sandy takes us to the midway and back into her own American youth on the Atlantic shore. Her rollercoaster ride of life does not stop at the ice-cream parlor only, however. It also stops at the Haunted House and the House Of Mirrors. You never reall know. Or do you? „We know everything / We know everything / We know / We know everything there is to know / Living in dreams“ – she sings and the music disappears with just her lone voice left.
LIVING IN DREAMS - new survival music created by Sandy Dillon. Intimate and raucous, sensual and tough, adventurous and uncompromising. Just like real life, really.
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