[sic] Magazine

Rabbit Velvet – Crows and Doves

Should we be afraid of change? Or should we embrace it? A couple of years ago Danielle Kimak Stauss walked away from cult NY/NJ band The Lost Patrol citing the ubiquitous reasoning of ‘musical differences’. Ideas, directions, styles, whatever…… they parted ways. And it felt so wrong on so many levels, most overwhelmingly so because Stauss has such a beautiful voice, one of the voices in fact. Her voice belongs in music. So much so that my initial emotion on receiving Crows and Doves was one of sheer relief that Danielle was still around, still involved, still making records.

So there she was, the honey-dripped siren of surf, bereft of her old vehicle but liberated to try out some other moves. This she does, and then some, as Rabbit Velvet . On Crows… Stauss experiments with motown, dub reggae, pop, urban and dance in a wholly contemporary setting. This is a playful album a wholesome, upbeat record that belies any goth tags that occasionally got piggybacked onto her previous work. Yes, occasionally her voice evokes the spirit of Siouxsie Sioux but forget any notions of twilight, Crows and Doves is 52 minutes of pure sunshine. I’m reminded more of Saint Etienne both stylistically and vocally over the whole album. Occasionally she even manages to out-Cracknell Sarah. Just listen to ‘Haarlem Haunt’ where Stauss transports that Camden Town vibe to New Yorks Greenwich Village and makes it her own. Swinging sixties London meets italio-house. Bet she’s got a Vespa.

I guess Crows and Doves was Danielles chance to let her hair down a bit and experiment? A showcase perhaps? Little tip then. Don’t hide your best song away at the end. 13 tracks is a little overlong and it would be a travesty if some people never reached ‘Maybe’. I’m all for ending an album powerfully but this isn’t one of those epic, climactic tracks, this is a nugget of purest pop. That starburst chorus! Ahh, if I were a record exec I’d be insisting this is the single . The carefree, contrary Stauss probably wouldn’t listen. In fact the only thing that saves ‘Maybe’ from going on endless repeat in my house is the fact that the album re-starts rather quickly and breezy opener ‘Right Now’ is equally near impossible to switch off.

Danielle Stauss has been compared to Julie Cruise , Siouxsie and Goldfrapp in her time but Crows and Doves reveals a more earthy, ‘girl next door’ quality, a side of Stauss that I suspect is a little more real than her former imagery. Like one of her song titles, her music has gone from ‘Twilight To Sunrise’. Bathed in light and warmth, Crows and Doves surely heralds a bright and optimistic future for Rabbit Velvet. I’ll keep my fingers crossed away.

~Crows and Doves is available via iTunes or CD Baby on limited edition CD with signed artwork.~