Danielle Ate The Sandwich – Two Bedroom Apartment (2010)

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photo by Todd Roeth

by Mark Saleski

I have proclaimed, on more than one occasion, that the world needs more sincerity. Just think of what it would do for politics: the black hole of sincerity. OK, it would destroy it! Never mind. Seriously, it has always bothered me when words such as “mellow,” “introspective,” and “sincere” are attached as pejorative labels to singer-songwriters. Perhaps the worst offender is “navel-gazer,” as if looking back at yourself — or at anybody’s thought interior — is such a bad thing.

Recently, I’ve been feeling the need for increased levels of sincerity. The fall is deepening, night is coming sooner, and an antidote is necessary. In the art world, sincerity can act as a serotonin booster. Some people need daylight, I need a direct connection to somebody else’s viewpoint, one not soured by the deceitful events of the day.

The problem for me is that when the serotonin drops below the green line, I get all crabby and unreasonable (alright, alright…more crabby and unreasonable) and start to complain about silly things like the up and down arrows not functioning to my liking in a google search results window. In situations like this, technology is just not my friend. So of course I see the email from one of my writer cohorts and my anti-technology reflex (“Review download? Bah!”) almost got the better of me. But then I thought, “Danielle Ate The Sandwich”? Hmmm…When moods such as this take over, there’s a little part of me that realizes that it’s a good idea to take that first step, a step away from those lengthening shadows. Later that evening, I followed that download link.

Oh dear. It’s a young woman with a ukulele. A woman with a clear and gorgeous voice…and she knows who Blossom Dearie is?!

While some of the songs on Two Bedroom Apartment have bass and violin for accompaniment (and I think I heard a horn in there too), the bulk of the selections feature Anderson playing either the ukulele or the acoustic guitar. She sings of the inevitable passage of time (“17 and 53”), relationships (the title track), expectations of adulthood (“American Dream”), and bunch of the other confusing and challenging things that we slam into along the way.

This might sound like typical singer-songwriter fare, but what sets these songs apart is Anderson’s accomplished use of melody and her beautiful voice — warm, with just the slightest trill, it’s the perfect vehicle for these songs. It’s a voice that seems to be equally at home singing a lighthearted tribute to El Paso followed by a concerning story of the life of a soldier. The versatility of her instrument and approach remind me of a few of my recent favorites: Regina Spektor and Kimya Dawson.

The irony of my curmudgeonly tech-grumbling is that Danielle Ate The Sandwhich owes much of her success to technology. Her Youtube videos have gone viral, resulting in increased sales at iTunes.

Good for her. And good for the rest of us, as this is a sincere voice that needs to be heard. Often.

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