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Music Review: Ladyhawke – Ladyhawke Special Edition

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Less than a year ago, Ladyhawke released her self-titled debut album. Now she's releasing Ladyhawke Special Edition as she kicks off a 17-date North American tour in September and then heads back to New Zealand to record her second album. Her solo sound is a throwback to the 1980s synth-pop era that layers keyboards, guitars, and driving drums to create infectious dance tunes. Don't let that throw you though… She has some mad skills.

At various times on the album I felt she was channeling Blondie, Stevie Nicks, the Cars, Cyndi Lauper, Joan Jett… just a huge mix of influences. And though you can hear the 80s vibe when you listen to her music, all the tracks are original compositions. And all of the tracks drive you to get up and move – even if it's just to tap your toes while you're working.

Ladyhawke is the persona of Phillipa "Pip" Brown and she is absolutely bursting with energy on the CD. You get all 12 of the tracks from the original album, plus five extra tracks – "Oh My," "Danny and Jenny," and acoustic versions of "Paris Is Burning," "Dusk Till Dawn," and "My Delirium." As mentioned earlier, all the tracks were written, arranged, and performed by Ladyhawke herself. Recorded in London, she worked with a number of collaborators including Pascal Gabriel, Kid Gloves, Jim Elliot, Paul Harris, Greg Kurstin, and Michael Di Francesco.

She taught herself to play the drums at age 11 and by age 14 had added guitar, bass, and synthesizer to the mix. After leaving home, she was with Two Lane Blacktop for a time, then with Teenager, and now she's on her own. Ladyhawke is generating some serious buzz after being picked by Perez Hilton to headline his 2009 SXSW party. According to Spin Magazine: "Ladyhawke is revamping the synth-driven '80s sound… with sharper beats and guitars, glossier production, and new millennial stomp and sass." I couldn't agree more.

And if Perez Hilton and other media outlets weren't already gaga for her, "My Delirium" was featured on So You Think You Can Dance on FOX and "Paris Is Burning" will be featured on an upcoming episode of Ugly Betty on ABC. She's definitely on a roll.

Now I have to say that when I started listening to Ladyhawke Special Edition, I didn't know this was really a re-release of her first album. Based on the sound, the quality of the tracks, and the toe-tapping goodness, I figured this was just a band from the 1980s I missed while growing up. Then I come to find out that this is her first solo release and I was blown away.

And if you think it's just the audio engineering that makes her sound so awesome, you have to listen to the acoustic versions on this special edition. It's all her and her arrangements are great.

My favorite tracks on the album? "My Delirium" – both the original and acoustic versions which has "rock anthem" written all over it, "Love Don't Live Here" with its MTV intro-sounding bass line that leads into her sultry voice, and "Oh My" which has a very Fleetwood Mac vibe.

If you haven't heard of Ladyhawke, run, don't walk, to your favorite retailer and pick up a copy of Ladyhawke Special Edition when it becomes available on August 31, 2009. If you're lucky enough to be in one of the towns where she's stopping before she heads back to Australia and New Zealand, be sure to get some tickets!

September 10th – Atlanta, GA – Variety Playhouse
September 12th – Washington, DC – 9:30 Club
September 13th – Philadelphia, PA – Theatre of the Living Arts
September 14th – Boston, MA – House of Blues

September 16th – New York, NY – The Fillmore @ Irving Plaza
September 17th – Toronto, ONT – Opera House Concert Venue
September 19th – Chicago, IL – Metro
September 21st – Minneapolis, MN – Fine Line Music Caf’e
September 22nd – Milwaukee, WI – Turner Hall Ballroom
September 23rd – Kansas City, MO – The Beaumont Club
September 25th – Denver, CO – Bluebird Theater
September 26th – Salt Lake City, UT – Club Sound
September 28th – Seattle, WA – The Showbox @ The Market
September 29th – Portland, OR – Wonder Ballroom
September 30th – San Francisco, CA – The Fillmore
October 2nd – San Diego, CA – House of Blues
October 3rd – Hollywood, CA – Avalon

Check out her website for more!

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About Fitz

Fitz is a software engineer and writer who lives in Colorado Springs, CO, with his family and pets, trying to survive the chaos!