Truth About Daisies
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Truth About Daisies

Portland, Maine, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2004 | SELF

Portland, Maine, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2004
Band Folk Singer/Songwriter


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"CD REVIEW - Truth About Daisies"

The electric guitar reminds you of what you loved about early, innocent rock and roll. The bass and drums, congas and shakers, triangles, and even a bell and timpani, frame the music, set the mood, highlight the changes, and walk you through the music like a spirit guide. The mandolin lines don't wait for you - they dance all by themselves. The inspired vocal harmonies remind me of the best in gospel and spiritual music.

Truth About Daisies has cut their first album, a self-titled disc with fourteen thoughtful, tastefully crafted tunes written by front woman Sheila McKinley and her multi-instrumentalist husband Doug Swift. The songs are driven by beefy rhythms, creative chord progressions, impressive instrumental leads, and those wonderful vocal harmonies.

Sheila's vocals bring loads of energy to these songs; her voice is confident and strong, and is not lost in these complex and rhythmic-dominated mixes. Doug takes the lead vocal on several of the songs he's written, and while he is not as skilled a vocalist, his ownership of the lyrics brings a personal emotional connection that works fine.

Dan Sonenberg is a musical P.H.D., USM professor of composition, and a renowned Joni Mitchell scholar; and, oh, by the way, he is the drummer for this lucky band. His contributions to the quality of this CD can be heard very clearly in the atomic-clock precision of his beat and the pin-point appropriateness of his drum arrangements.

Ronda Dale's sweet, high voice is a part of the vocal magic, but she has worked extremely hard over the past few years to become the solid bassist that she is for this band. I believe that a strong bass line in a song is what makes you remember the melody; it provides the framework that helps you pull the rest of the tune in. If that's true, Ronda will be a major reason that these songs are remembered by folks.

Burd plays a shaker like no one I have every heard, bringing out rhythms and tones far beyond what most people expect from this simple instrument. She also plays a mean conga, and sings like - well, like a bird! Her nuanced, textured, and highly skilled vocals are the foundation of the stunning backing vocal harmonies that make this band so special.

The CD opens with "Sunshine", a song with a great electric guitar riff holding it together, nice lyrical hooks, but an intriguing, obscure theme. It's an upbeat track, but I'm not sure the message is all that positive - I'm going to need a few more listens to figure that one out.

I think my favorite track is "Out Goes the Old"; I enjoyed its simplicity and innocence. I love the acoustic guitar intro, the great hooks, and the way the percussion and vocal harmonies build the energy in the song and focus the listener on the catchy chorus.

"State You're In" is a reggae-influenced, mandolin-based lesson in learning to open up and let the world know how you feel and what you need. It's a good lesson to learn.

"Find the place where love hides / view the spectrum from all sides; Scream, laugh, or cry / it's not too late to try"

Doug Swift and the band are listed as producers. The disc was recorded and mixed by Marc and Gina Bartholomew; it was mastered by Scott Elson. These three fine folks hail from Acadia Recording Company in Portland's Bayside neighborhood. A fine job they did, too, with a mix that highlights the bands vocal and rhythmic strengths, and a consistent, polished texture that runs through the entire album.

You'll love this CD for its cool arrangements, the high level of the instrumental talent, and the soaring four-part vocal harmonies that will get you singing along. I'm a big fan of Truth About Daisies in a live venue, having seen them several times gigging in and around Portland. The visual, aural, and spiritual beauty of the band when they are working together on stage is stunning, and brings out the best in the music.

The melodic and harmonic components of Sheila and Doug's songwriting are its best qualities, and their instrumental arrangements are very nicely done. I'm a stickler for lyrical content, and I'd like to see a little more sophistication in that area, but I believe that you will love this CD for its spirit and energy, and for the love of music that it conveys.

I recommend that you catch this band at a live gig, and learn the Truth About Daisies for yourself. - Maine Today - Portland Press Herald

"Daisies a Day - Sam Pfeifle"

I’m in the camp that says band names are important. By Blood Alone couldn’t have any other sound. Rustic Overtones, Twisted Roots, and Rusted Root make for a confusing triumvirate unless you really know the bands. There’s simply no good reason to be so conspicuous that you feel the urge to use “funk,” “groove,” or “blues” in your band name. Unless you’re being ironic or something.

What could Truth About Daisies be if not bright and sunny? The former See Jane Run have re-named themselves well. Though I’d buy that band name for a group of gal indie rockers, they are instead a collection of mature and talented musicians, three women and two men, who feature warm harmonies on every tune, a style of new-age folk that leans toward the uplifting, and a bit of reggae rhythm from time to time that might recall the Caribbean. There’s a reason the cool kids give daisies now instead of roses.

On the cover of Truth About Daisies’ new debut self-titled album, you can even just make out the time-and-temp building showing it’s 98 degrees, hopefully a reference to that hot, hot, hot boy band that introduced us to Nick Lachey.

It’s unlikely you’ll find this five-piece dancing around with mics on their heads, but that’s not to say they don’t get a little giddy-up in their steps from time to time. “NYC Blues” is an active 12-bar affair, with lots of snare and harmonica, reminiscent of the traditional “Minglewood Blues.” Sheila McKinley, who fronts just more than half the 14 tunes here, tells us, “They’ll be talking in Russian/They’ll be talking in Japanese/They’ll call you in German/You’re in French up to your knees.” You know, just like, say, Gorham.

That’s where they recorded the disc, in USM’s Corthell Concert Hall, with the help of Marc and Gina Bartholomew, who run Acadia Recording. The result is a consistently warm and expansive sound, especially with the percussion, as on the opening “Sunshine” (told you they were sunny). Congas by “Burd” open the tune, joined by a jammy electric guitar, and the vocals are first-rate, with at least three parts that are exquisitely mixed and layered. At times, as on “Pink Peonies” (you’re noticing a trend here, right?), McKinley and songwriting partner/co-lead vocalist Doug Swift sound like the new-age version of Danny and Sandy: “You are the tree, I am the Earth/You are the sun, I am the water/High and low, fast and slow/Round we go and we are together.” But that’s not a bad thing if you’re a fan of the singalong and catchy tunes that follow a verse-chorus-verse-bridge-chorus structure. On “Peonies,” Swift makes the mandolin sound like a marimba or a steel drum, similar to the sound he evokes on “State You’re In,” which opens like “I’ll Fly Away” and finishes like UB40.

Of the tunes Swift leads, don’t take his first, “Need Another Sky,” as an example. Though the organization of the tune is solid, moving from a solitary acoustic guitar strum and vocal to a Dave Mathews-style jam, Swift doesn’t quite own the vocals, quavering on a couple of high notes and coming off slightly thin. Much better are “Out Goes the Old” and “Outside Inside,” which both feature a more pleasing resonance and presence. On the former, he echoes Essex Green’s “Rue de Lis,” a sing-songy jaunt. On the latter, there’s a hitch in his step — “Have you tried to ge-ge-get around?/I see you seem to have run-run-run aground” — supported by great percussion work from Dan Sonenberg (USM composer-in-residence) and guitars that charge and retreat.

The album gets stronger as it goes along in general, finishing with the strongest track, “Not Asking Why,” a quick waltz like you might hear on a Darien Brahms album, with vocal work that’s just out of hand, the mando, drums, and bass (Ronda Dale) combining to suck you along with McKinley’s sultry lead: “And I’ll stand like a tree/Where the ground holds me/Still and not asking why.”

No, Truth About Daisies aren’t your first candidate for next big thing, or likely to be crowded by hipsters, but they build solid songs and deliver them impressively. Carol Noonan has proven you can build a career like that, and there’s no reason to believe the Daisies can’t garner the same sort of fans.
- The Phoenix


Truth About Daisies - November 2006 - 14 song CD featuring all 5 original members.

Songs Lighter Than Air, NYC Blues, and State You're In have received airplay on WCLZ & WMPG.



After playing many local clubs and festivals as a 5-piece band and recording a juicy 14-song CD, the drummer and percussionist each left for other pursuits (fathering triplets & lead role in another band, respectively).

Truth About Daisies re-formed and coalesced around the songwriting core of Sheila McKinley & Doug Swift--aided by the beautiful backup vocals and bass riffs of Ronda Dale--into a tight acoustic trio where harmonies swell, instruments sing, and words ring out.

Truth About Daisies as a quintet or trio has played: South Portland summer concert series in Mill Creek Park, Portland sunset concert series (West end), Common Ground Fair, Orono Downtown Festival Day & Summertime Concert Series in the park, Kingfield festival, MSA/Portland Downtown district concert series, Camden library amphitheater concert, and L/A Arts concert series.

Sheila McKinley
cell: 207.415.8393 hm: 207.761.7099

Band Members