Rachel Dadd’s ethos is very much DIY. The eight tracks on Moth In The Motor were largely recorded in her bedroom, and a lucky 300 punters will be able to purchase physical releases with handmade covers, each lovingly stitched by Dadd herself. But for those who miss out on the homespun physical special, the music offers enough to make up.
Multi-instrumentalist Dadd associates with other pioneer spirits, having worked with Rozi Plain in Bristol, being a regular feature of the Truck Festival bill and with attention from Rob Da Bank and a nod from Glastonbury, her star could be in the ascendant.
Moth In The Motor’s songs are all piano based. The opening Table is a simple melody of pulsing repeated keyboard refrain. But typically, as on Age Of The Clock, Dadd favours swirling tunes that swell and ebb to dramatic effect. The reliance on piano, coupled with stream of consciousness lyrics, instantly brings to mind Tori Amos in her earlier years. In Age Of The Clock the line “there were white horses, white horses” recalls the line “all the white horses have gone on ahead” from Amos’s track Winter, to which Dadd also makes musical nods.
Dadd’s lyrics typically deal with the quotidian, using her impressive, warm vocal to breathe life into everyday scenarios. But from time to time, as on the standout Caught In The Weight, lines such as “their mouths were wide open, craning back like hungry birds” give the listener pause to contemplate the vivid imagery.
Dadd is raised above average singer-songwriter level by her jazzy sensibilities and her smoky midnight vocals. Subtly shifting time signatures are embellished by the contributions of her rhythm section, as best evidenced on Until We Fall, for which the drummer’s work deserves a special mention.
Moth In The Motor is a beguiling collection of songs from a young artist whose ethos and approach to making music have to be admired. The accomplished playing and performance mask any shortcomings in the lyrical imagination, and it all adds up to an excellent advert for Dadd’s live shows.