Dao Strom
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Dao Strom

Portland, Oregon, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2015 | SELF

Portland, Oregon, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2015
Solo Alternative Folk

Calendar

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Sep
03
dao strom @ The Woods

None, Oregon, USA

None, Oregon, USA

Jul
17
dao strom @ Woody Guthrie Folk Festival

Okemah, Oklahoma, USA

Okemah, Oklahoma, USA

Apr
24
dao strom @ Outspoken: Poets of the Vietnamese Diaspora

San Francisco, California, USA

San Francisco, California, USA

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Music

Press


This is a story that begins in the Perfume River and ends with Jesus riding in a car. The middle is all broken hearts and broken bottles, the stuff of great country music. Austinite Dao Strom sings a lonely song for the entire world to hear, backed by bassist Kevin Fox and guitar/banjo player Lew Card, and her wanderlust makes for a beautiful album that endears you from the start. Lyrics like “Lost and limber, this world was not made for a left-handed drinker” and “I only miss you when I’m feeling lazy,” tug and tear, while Strom’s voice teeters on the verge of cracking every song. Yet it’s her visceral lyrics pulling her back and the listener in, making you feel the pillow against her cheek, hear the freeway through her half-cracked windows. She’s a storyteller, and a damn good one… Recorded on a Fifties analog tape machine, Send Me Home is a refreshing bit of nostalgia for at time when Jesus riding in your car was an everyday event. - Audra Schroeder


…It’s a critical cliché to describe a songwriter as a storyteller, but, of course, in this case it’s both appropriate and valid, however, [Strom] brings more than a clutch of subtle songs, infused with melancholy, lightened by dashes of humor and an undercurrent of hope, to the table. As a singer, Strom has a very unusual and intriguing way with words. The lyrics of “Send Me Home,” for instance, a first person reworking of a Buddhist parable, don’t read like a song, but she makes it work by coming at the words from unexpected directions and what looks unsingable blossoms into a moving and distinctive version of the ‘when life hands you lemons, make lemonade’ adage… Strom cut her entire album live on Brian Beattie’s Tube-O-Sonic equipment, mainly a 50s 2-inch Ampex analog tape deck, and the effect, very adventurous for a first-timer, is quite remarkable, combining vintage sounds with modern awareness. She also has a shrewd grasp of texture, quickening the pace at well timed intervals. All in all, a very accomplished debut. - John Conquest


One of the most beautiful and organic things about music is the places it originates. The simple happenstances of an artist’s home and origin can prove to be the incubator that creates pure and lovely music. Such is the case with Austin’s Dao Strom. Born in Saigon, and raised in the historic Gold Rush mecca of Placerville, California, her version of Americana is rich with a tender melancholy and gentle darkness. Send Me Home is full of history, recalling grand traditions of country-western and Appalachian folk and steeped in mountain and gospel imagery. Backed by a spare yet solid duo, Strom’s original stand up quite well with her sublime interpretation of the classic standard “I am a Poor Wayfaring Stranger.” Dao Strom is the real thing. I can’t wait to see what’s next… - Greg Trout


If you think that only someone in a trailer park living on welfare can sing the true blues found in country music, think again. Of course, Dao Strom has been through a heck of a lot worse than you probably ever will, fleeing Vietnam as a little girl in 1973 and finally settling in Austin. Despite her being foreign-born, one listen to her vocal inflections and soul of her tone will convince you that she has “Americana” in her blood.
The opening cut, “Perfume River,” brings forth comparisons to Emmylou Harris or early Gillian Welch (Ms. Welch’s influence comes through very strong on the second cut, “When U Go Out”). Dao’s vocal dynamics, how she hangs on to certain words much differently than expected by the listener, gives this such a warm, live feel... All of Dao’s compositions make wonderful musical short stories. The disc moves along so well and captures the listener so strongly that it leaves one wanting more. She has a lot of potential to put among the ranks of the aforementioned Americana divas, as her writing and vocal delivery are as traditional and wholesome as one could want. - Matt Merta


Dao Strom's 'Send Me Home' is as authentic a slice of mountain string music as you're likely to hear this year. The fingerpicking of her musicians is striking... Her reading (voice just breaking) on these acoustic self-penned tunes is stricly Appalachiana redux. With no weak song in sight, the notable track here is "My Little Angel," a child ballad wherein a wandering boy chills his mother's heart, "I'll tell you the wicked things that I have seen and then I'll become your little angel once again." - Michael Meade


Like the singer Gillian Welch, Austinite Dao Strom’s stark and lonesome music seems to hail from the Appalachians, though both she and Welch were raised in California… [Send Me Home is] her modest and intriguing debut... Strom’s earnest voice carries songs...imbued with a country sorrow... - Jeff McCord


The songs that flesh out Send Me Home are redolent of stringband music filtered through the mind's eye, untainted by the retroactive sentimentality of memory... songs replete with displaced travelers and seekers, and many of them...wandering by moving bodies of water that are by turn succoring and sinister. Dao Strom, you might say, knows from rivers...

From Grant Alden, No Depression:
For whatever it's worth, your record is one of the few which...how shall I say this?...justifies the time. No. Rewards the time, or the listening... - John T. Davis


The successor to 2004's Send Me Home – a curious title from a woman born in Saigon who writes fiction that drifts, as she seems to, across the country – is as subtle and word-driven as its precedessor. Strom is also more comfortable in her own singing this time, and less shaped by the dry mannerisms of the Carter Family, whose influence led to the concluding "I Am A Poor Wayfaring Stranger" on her debut.

Which is to say her vocals are not so often trying to be country – that they sound more like I imagine her speaking voice. She chose to record her debut on a late '50s analog two-track; this appears to have been cut on an eight-track, and she uses the extra layers to good advantage.

Her voice, then, is a sharp but carefully modulated brush placed amid various acoustic layers, and surprisingly pretty (though her words can be wonderfully disconcerting)… I don't want to talk about her lyrics because they seem so private as to invite solitary exploration within the comfort of headphones and winter tea. But let me clip this opening bit from the song she calls "Silver":

i've always worn silver
i've never wanted gold
the choice was given to me
& i put it on hold
to hold fast to my heart
& not a band of gold
i guess i didn't believe it would
really take away the cold
i've never worn a dress that i
couldn't run away in

It is not clear to me what Strom wants from her music, whether it's a hobby that serves as a tonic to her fiction, or an adjunct to it. Or both. Or neither. In both cases, I tend to suspect she is only at the beginning of a long creative road, and that her work in ten or twenty years will be extroardinary.


(from www.nodepression.com, Oct 21, '08) - NoDepression.com


Dao Strom is a Vietnamese born ex resident of Austin, Texas (where this album was recorded). A published author, this is her second album of folk influenced songs with excellent sounds supporting her frail vocals, very much in the vein of Freakwater or Alela Diane.

At times recalling Appalachian ballads, old time folk songs and the wide open spaces of America it is telling that, despite her credentials as an author, the thing that repeatedly strikes home here is the music as opposed to the lyrics. While Strom can string together words none of the songs really stand out from the crowd. At times (“Lebanon, Missouri” and “Fields of California”) the lyrics hit home however it is the warm embrace of the supporting cast (in the main from local Austin bands) that lifts the album up. Rippling guitars, warm cello, accordion, violins, mandolins and dobro soak into the fibre of the album giving it a sepia toned sonic palette which is invigorating and comforting at the same time.

A nice touch, this limited edition CD is hand wrapped in a home made cover tied up with a little piece of string, it’s almost a shame to undo it in order to listen to the album but overall it its worth it. (Paul Kerr, Jan. 4, 2009)
- Paul Kerr, Americana UK


Broke my heart having to cut the string round the handmade packaging, but, you know, I kinda needed to listen to the CD if I was going to review it. Strom, whose first album, Send Me Home, was my April, 2005 (#99/188) cover story, was born in Vietnam, raised in California, spent some time in Austin and now lives in Juneau, Alaska. She covers almost as much ground as a writer, admired by music critics as a country influenced singer-songwriter and acclaimed by literary critics for her two collections of stories, from which you might deduce that she has a way with words. Her second album, also recorded in Austin, offers another eleven of her distinctive and subtle songs that combine an old musical soul with a thoroughly modern sensibility. The New Yorker’s reviewer was talking about her second book, but his comment “Quietly beautiful, Strom’s stories are hip without being ironic,” applies just as well to her marvellously intelligent and moving songs. (John Conquest, Dec 2008) - 3rd Coast Music


Discography

MUSIC:

Everything That Blooms Wrecks Me (cd, 2008):
1. Everything That Blooms Wrecks Me
2. Caller of Spirit
3. Sweetness
4. Silver
5. Seeds in the Ashes
6. Lebanon, Missouri
7. Traveler's Ode
8. Slow
9. Fields of California
10. Only Angel
11. Caller of Spirit (Lincoln's version)

Send Me Home (cd, 2004):
1. Perfume River
2. When U Go Out
3. Hesitating
4. Wake Up In the Cold
5. My Little Angel
6. Send Me Home
7. My Tall Friend
8. Day That We Met
9. Jesus song
10. I Am a Poor Wayfaring Stranger

BOOKS:
The Gentle Order of Girls and Boys (2006, Counterpoint Press)
Grass Roof, Tin Roof (2003, Houghton Mifflin-Mariner Books)

Photos

Bio

Dao Strom is a writer of both books and songs. She was born in Saigon, Vietnam and grew up in the Sierra Nevada foothills of northern California. She has lived in NYC, SF, Iowa City, Austin TX, Juneau, Alaska, and now calls Portland, Oregon home. She is the author of two critically acclaimed works of fiction, Grass Roof, Tin Roof (Mariner Books, 2003), a novel, and The Gentle Order of Girls and Boys (Counterpoint Press, 2006), a collection of stories. She has self-released two previous solo albums. Her latest project is an experimental memoir + album, combining text, image and songs - We Were Meant To Be a Gentle People + East/West.

The New Yorker praised Dao's stories in The Gentle Order of Girls and Boys, as being "quietly beautiful...hip without being ironic."

The Deli Magazine described Dao's music as "emotive vocal melodies and ambient frequencies...balanced with a folk sensibility...that feel dynamic, meditative and honest in their presentation."

Dao's latest album, East/West, was recorded at Type Foundry Studio and co-produced with Dylan Magierek (Badman Recording Company founder). It will be released by Paperdoll Works (via Martin Paul Moser Productions) as a companion work to her memoir, We Were Meant To Be a Gentle People, in October 2015.