Nothing like a little rejection to get your creative juices flowing. After a pair of forgettable album released on a major label, Meg & Dia were dropped and turned that rejection into some of the catchiest songs your ears could hear this year for their album Cocoon. The only problem is without a major label to promote the album it just sat there in the ether of the internet. So the singing half of the group Dia Frampton tried out for The Voice and let’s face it, should have won. But her effort landed Dia her second chance at a major label record contract.
With the release of The Broken Ones, it sounded like Dia might be in for a repeat of her first major label with an uninspired song in the vein of the bore of an “original song” Inventing Shadows that was written for The Voice. Fortunately most of the rest of her debut solo album Red sounds more like the direction she took with her band in the last year. The only other forgettable song on the album is the duet she sang and co-wrote with her coach on The Voice Blake Shelton for I Will which sounds like your run of the mill overdramatic sentimental ballad that populates most country albums these days.
Despite being mentored by the country superstar, there isn’t much country influence on Red unless you count Isabella with its banjos and foot stomping beat, but even that song sound more like the folksy Mumford & Sons filtered through a pop prism than a tradition country song. But much like on the show when she transitioned from the Colbie Caillat to Kanye West to R.E.M. to Tom Petty, there is plenty of genre skipping throughout Red. Aside from the previously mentioned trips into folk rock and country, you can also hear elements of adult contemporary (The Broken Ones), acoustic singer-songwriter (Daniel), alternative rock (Bullseye), and even hip-hop (Don’t Kick the Chair which features a verse from Kid Cudi).
Dia was marketed as the “indie pop” artist on The Voice and she certainly kept that theme for Red bringing in some top flight “indie pop” producers like Greg Kurstin of The Bird and the Bee (Don’t Kick the Chair), Mark Foster and Isom Innis of Foster the People (Billy the Kid), and Isabella Summers who is the Machine in Florence + The Machine (Bullseye). The influence of Foster the People spreads to other songs on Red. Aside from Billy the Kid, which sounds like it could have been a leftover from their album rerecorded with Dia’s vocals with its plucky bass line and vocal effects that accompany the spaghetti western style lyrics, there is Walk Away, a whistle heavy song with a bass line that sounds like a slowed down version of Pumped Up Kicks and also features a chorus about bullets.
And apparently there were an over abundance of catchy tunes because there are a couple of bonus tracks worth hunting down (and could have replaced the sappier I Will and / or The Broken Ones) including Hearts Out to Dry on iTunes which is more adventurous than anything on Red with her spooky vocals and would have rivaled the heartfelt delivery of Trapeze for the best vocals on the album. While over at Walmart there is the exclusive track Love Can Come From Anywhere which could have battled for the best track on Red with its absurdly catchy chorus. With Red, With the release of Red Dia Frampton is living proof that second chances are worth giving out.
Song to Download – Trapeze
Red gets a on my Terror Alert Scale.