On the first few listens it doesn’t sound like Alexandra Sauser-Monnig has made a breakup album, but that’s precisely what Dawnbreaker is. It’s not edged with acrimony or rancor or regret, but even if it was, you’d still struggle to hear it beyond her delicate, disarming voice.
Inspired by the thought of an impending breakup, Dawnbreaker captures that introspective calm before the change; those moments where you explain and justify it to yourself before you clear your head and empty your heart. Initially imagined as barebones folk ballads, these quiet reflections are prettily filled out with fingerpicked guitar and subtle synth weaving around Sauser-Monnig’s contemplative, confessional themes.
Tracks such as ‘Shining Woman’ and ‘Fields’ hit the melodic, almost melancholic, notes Chutes Too Narrow-era The Shins mastered in ways that not so much tugged on the heartstrings as they caressed them, whereas ‘Rising Sun’ dials up a more traditional country influence with slide guitar and a flash of harmonica.
It all makes for an endearing, uplifting debut where each track feels like it’s been softly-spoken into the world and blown away with the breeze. Joy meets reflection, freedom meets introspection and loneliness meets acceptance in a hopeful haze that makes this breakup sound kind of beautiful.