Mark Donato “At the Literal Crack of Dawn” LP review

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Mark Donato / At The Literal Crack of Dawn / March 2018 / SubFamily Records
https://markdonato.bandcamp.com/album/at-the-literal-crack-of-dawn
RIYL: Adam Green, R.E.M., Jeffrey Lewis + Los Bolts

This is a weird one! A SubFamily Records release, At the Literal Crack of Dawn is a solo record from a seasoned and experienced musician who clearly has found his stride and is comfortable leaving trendy techniques and other people’s expectations in the dust.

Often wordy and always swinging, there is an earnestness to this you don’t hear every day. From the touching “Advice for the Pure at Heart” where Donato advises us “if there’s pain to feel, feel it,” to “Turning Everything into Love,” in which he sings, “Nobody knows me like you do. Nobody sees me clear through. Nobody’s better than you at turning the same old me into something new,” we get a stark, clean narrative punctuated by nice musical layers–lots of piano/keys, guitar, and some stuff that I’m not even going to guess about.

If you didn’t know, Donato has some serious cred. According to his own bio, he drummed, sang and played harmonica for John Linnell of They Might Be Giants, Flat Old World, Rosine, the Oswalds, Amy Allison and the Maudlins, “and others you might have heard of.” He’s also released at least five other full-lengths, so you can really get in a deep rabbit hole here. That’s the best!

–Francesca Olsen

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