A heart string tugging sound

“Something tugs at the heart strings so we open our mouths, hammer the keys, push the buttons bang the skins, bow the dreams to release the waves that pound the ears that tell the brain: this is sound,” says South African band, Dear Reader’s MySpace page. And this is exactly what their album entitled Replace why with funny released in February 2009, does. It is beautiful, inspiring, sad and a little strange all at once.

Dear Reader is an indie/folk/pop band originating from Johannesburg consisting of three pieces, singer songwriter Cherilyn Macneil, bassist and electronics Darryl Torr, drummer and vocalist Michael Wright. This trio covers a wide variety of sounds from poetic ballads and electronic loops. Their facebook page describes them as alternative folk pop, which creates a highly unique sound. McNeil’s voice is mesmerizing yet extremely modern, she sometimes sounds like she is whispering yet one can feel the intensity of her voice at all times.

The name is taken from the old fashioned English classic, Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte. “I love the way it’s written in the first person,” MacNeil explains, “and every once in a while she addresses you with a ‘dear reader’. I like that sense of connection between reader, writer and plot. That’s what we’re interested in when we’re making music: connecting with the people who are listening, commiserating with one another.”

Their album fills you with a wonderfully confusing mix of emotions, you feel a series of inappropriate mixes, happy, sad, excited, all at once. You want to burst out laughing yet cry at the same time, Dear Reader’s MySpace page describes their sound as this, “when you feel so much that you think you might explode and then laugh at yourself for being such a melodramatic douchebag!”, which oddly enough is what it does.

The lyrics are written as if they were intended as poetry and address various elements of the human condition. The track, The Same deals with the difficulties of fitting in South Africa and how one is categorized as a young South African in our diverse nation. The song asks where you belong if you do not fit in the land of your birth. Macneil speaks of everyone been the same as we are all human, and this is what everyone needs to accept. The Same speaks to the youth of South Africa, asking the infinite question of identity and who to blame for the atrocities
of the country and her people.

A special band doesn’t belong to its members. It belongs to the listeners, the fans, the nutters who inhale the music and exhale the lyrics. Dear Reader is a special band. Indeed Dear Reader is a truly special and inspirational band, and is also just really great music.

Their track, Great White Bear, which is about having a really bad day and wanting to hide under the covers. (YouTube)

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