CD Review of A Beginning A Detour An Open Ending by Tina Dico
Tina Dico: A Beginning A Detour An Open Ending
Recommended if you like
Joni Mitchell, Beth Orton,
Sarah McLachlan
Finest Gramophone
Tina Dico:
A Beginning
A Detour
An Open Ending

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

anish songstress Tina Dico is surprisingly adept when it comes to expressing more plaintive emotion, a quality she’s shown off to good advantage on each of her five albums to date. Like Joni Mitchell, a chief influence early on, she’s as astute a poet and observer as she is a singer and songwriter. While her previous outings have found her exercising her pop proficiency, her latest effort – a tidy box set boasting three distinct EPs – provides a respite of sorts, a quiet interlude that occupied her prior to preparing her next actual album.

In the liner notes to the sumptuous booklet that accompanies the box, Dico notes that she originally intended to release the EPs separately and distribute them at her concerts. Inevitably, however, she grew so enamored with the material that she decided to package the discs together and release the songs en masse. While that might seem somewhat presumptuous for an artist barely known beyond her own borders, it proves an efficient move regardless, adding up a sizeable collection of cloudy, contemplative narratives – part rumble, part rumination – residing in a realm midway between darkness and desire. Dico doesn’t write lyrics merely to accommodate her melodies; rather, she etches her ideas as poetry, and in perusing them throughout the box’s booklet, it becomes clear she’s guided not by the dictates of the melodies, but rather by intuition and imagination. These lines from "London" illustrate a typical case in point:

"I’m flying over London on a cold November night
The river snakes across the vast ocean of electric lights,
Fast and weightless like this marvel in the sky,
The young and restless skateboard in the dark beneath the closing London eye."

Truth be told, many of these musings tend to be mired in melancholia, as suggested by the gentle ode to a lover burdened by the past but illuminated in "Glow," or the troubling reunion with a "Friend in a Bar" still pining for her long-departed sweetheart. Yet, though the songs are sparse and eerily atmospheric, the mood is spurred by reflection rather than remorse. Flush with intimate details, songs such as "All I See," "Magic," "Quarter to Forever" and "An Open Ending" are spawned from personal circumstance, providing a connection that’s all the more affecting, even as filtered through the ethereal ambiance. Those qualities make A Beginning A Detour An Open Ending a rare journey and to be sure, one well worth taking.

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