This is the fantastic Dinah Brand playing in Whelans a few weeks ago. Dinah Brand is a vehicle for the song-writing talents of Dylan Philips and I have to admit a bias here, as Dylan is a good friend of mine. I think we are all inclined to appreciate the things that our friends do, and sometimes it can cloud the judgment a bit, but I don’t think that’s the case here, as there really is something unique and original about these songs. They tell compelling and unusual stories, and do this with the kind of carefully crafted words you might expect from a band that takes its name from a character in a Dashiell Hammett novel. They are full of ambiguity and loose ends, and shift in meaning as you listen to them. They also manage to be quite moving, without resorting in any way to the kind of ridiculous emotional grandstanding that is the common currency of many a critically-lauded Irish songwriter. And it’s all wrapped up in great melodies, brilliant arrangements and superb musicianship.
While packing up my camera to go out and photograph this gig I realised I had only one sheet of film. This meant I could take only one photograph and so I wondered if it was worth it, as I would have only one chance to get it right. I thought of the hordes of digital photographers that you see down the front at gigs and wondered how many shots on average they take per night. Would any of them consider taking their camera out, shooting one frame, and then putting it away again? I decided to do it, but to choose the song I wanted to photograph beforehand. The song is called What’s Required Of A Person and it’s one of the standout tracks on the new Dinah Brand album, I Can Walk Through. I usually note the length of the exposure for each photograph I put on this blog. In this case it’s exactly the length of the song below.