Lady Dan

Austin, TX

There’s a paradoxically perfect union between a broken heart and cowboy twang. Tyler Dozier’s songs as Lady Dan tap even deeper into that sublime intersection where searing pain can reach sublime heights. Her own tale of hurt comes complete with multilayered existential quandaries, of empowerment and restriction, of life and death, of faith and its absence. On her debut album I Am the Prophet, the Austin-based musician weaves intensely personal storytelling, poetic imagery, biblical allusion, immaculate arrangements, and crackling songwriting into an irresistible melancholic melange. That new perspective feels wholly earned on her 2019 debut EP, Songs for the Soulless. The five-song set took equal inspiration from indie guitar hero Laura Marling as it did classic country. In early 2020, Dozier returned to her hometown and holed up in a one-room cabin for six weeks to find the next step of that journey. In addition to further baring her soul lyrically, she wanted to ensure that I Am the Prophet would expand sonically as well. Building up from a base of burnished acoustic guitar and twinkling keys, album highlight “No Home” tells that growth story in a stunning arc. Dozier’s lyrics somehow feel both intimate and epic, tracing from her lowest lows to a new height. “Nothing to write home about/ There’s no home to write to at all,” she sings, before insisting that she will never let wolves or men be her master again, as violin, cello, and pedal steel bolster her winged ascent. Though full of lines that astonish in their simple power, Dozier’s lyrics reveal further layers of depth as the songs wear their way deeper into the listener’s heart. On the thumping, glistening “Dogs”, Dozier compares a former lover’s decision to leave her for his ex to a dog’s willingness to eat it’s own vomit. At first blush the image elicits a knowing sneer from those who’ve been jilted in a similar way, but those familiar with the Bible verse Dozier paraphrases will get an extra jolt. By tapping into her religious upbringing and twisting it back in unexpected ways, Dozier imbues her songs with a surreal familiarity. Album closer “Left-Handed Lover” brings everything into focus over a shuffling rhythm and a hazy cloud of flute-like synths. The song is perhaps the most unabashed in its longing and loss, Dozier’s amber voice slipping softly through the sheets of saxophone and trumpet that wash over the mix. The dense and purring arrangement echoes the indie mythmaking of Weyes Blood or Julia Holter, technicolor and organic, though Dozier’s vocals bear down straight to the heart. “There’s so many different directions I could come from,” Dozier sings, the album readying for another spin. I Am the Prophet proudly displays Lady Dan as a project of empowerment and depth, but leaves plenty of room for growth. Much like her own experience with religion, Dozier’s debut is not a statement of certainty or superiority, but rather a newfound welcoming and questing.
Lady Dan