Completely indicative of how this year has gone, I first heard of these two West Coast-based artists back in July, when they were passing through on a brief New England tour together. Whatever the reason, I didn’t get it together soon enough to promote the shows, and months later, here we are. However, they sufficiently impressed me that I wanted to say a few words.
DIA is the musical project of Los Angeles-based composer and singer Danielle Birrittella. She has an exotic background and an exotic sound to match. Her songs have a hypnotic mix of influences, from 1950s and 1960s oldies to art songs to wartime ballads. She writes and performs on piano and ukulele. To listen to her is to be swept away in a time machine to exotic, unfamiliar lands, but it’s not a jarring experience, not in the slightest. It’s soothing, calming and simply delightful.
A native of New England, Birrittella was born in a Hindu ashram and was introduced to Indian instruments and ceremonial Sanskrit ragas from an early age. She went on to study Western classical singing and trained as an opera singer in the U.S. and Europe. This influence comes out strongly in her gorgeously flowing vocals. She studied at New York University and California Institute of the Arts and has worked as an actor and singer in New York, France and Italy. She performed in Disney Hall’s REDCAT Theatre, La Musica Lirica in Italy, The Chautauqua Institute in New York, La Main d’Or in Paris and The Ludwig Foundation in Cuba.
Her latest release is Tiny Ocean. She has performances at Archangel in London on October 31, and at Distrikt Nightclub (formerly Club9one9) in Victoria, British Columbia, on November 11.
Tim Carr, also from Los Angeles, is a multi-instrumentalist who has a warm and intimate style. His songs have a feeling of expansion and joyousness, performed simply with crisp acoustic guitar fingerpicking and occasional delicate touches of pretty harmonies and light percussion. Marvelous.
He’s inspired by the melodies of 1960s pop and the French Romantics and by African rhythms. As a member of The Americans, he’s performed on Letterman and has toured nationally, opening for The Secret Sisters and Ryan Bingham. He also sings and plays drums in Fell Runner, an experimental group inspired by African rhythms and melodies. He has also played drums for HAIM, composed and arranged music for Taiwanese pop musician Yen-J and has produced for other songwriters. Beginning before he was eight years old, he’s studied guitar, piano and drums, and studied at the California Institute of the Arts. He’s been featured on their annual Capital Records recordings.