Dani Darling rescues light from darkness. With her band’s blend of soul, indie-rock, dream-pop and trip-hop, this Ann Arbor-based singer/songwriter creates mesmerizing and tender ballads with her diaphanous voice. Listeners will find themselves in a quiet/cool dazzled state, encountering a classically-trained voice purposefully pulled back to reveal a more vulnerable whisper while accentuating healing crescendos. It’s a frank and confessional hybrid of folk-lullaby and a 21st-century-re-rendering of the classic jazz torchsong.
“It’s surprising to people that I do have a more sullen side,” the singer otherwise known as Danielle Davis said. “The music helps me address that. Because I had really bad childhood anxiety—I’ve struggled with that and depression all my life—but the evolution I’ve experienced this last year as a solo artist is finally addressing some of those issues. I know I’ll always have to deal with feelings of angst…” And even though she says she’s been doing dramatically better, she “can’t lose sight” of the dormant feelings of discomfort and fright.”
The power of music
But that’s where the power of music comes in… A recently released single, “Violent Nights + Violet Days,” has a wistfulness, but as Davis has a band of talented musicians, each of whom could add to her signature vibe, the opportunity arose for these other voices to enhance the arrangements into something brighter —a collaboration between melancholy and mirth. “…finding the beauty in darkness,” Davis explained.
With her band, new recordings, and recent concerts, Davis is emerging from a chrysalis with pre-established celebrity-status: born as a triplet, she and her identical sisters, Jacquelyn and Nicole, had life-events covered by the local news. The sisters were also a vocal trio, performing and harmonizing (primarily in Church) since before Kindergarten. Later in life, they competed on The X-Factor.
A child star
“So from a very young age,” she said, “there was a big spotlight. I’ve always been very creative, but it recently became about narrowing it down to just one thing. I was writing a novel, I did theater for many years, I played violin as a kid, and I’m very into Astrology and magic…” But, as she grew older, the guitar became her main focus of expression.
“I didn’t know where I was going to end up,” she said, recalling writing her recent batch of songs, often in the later hours of the night after her daughter, Eden, had fallen asleep. “…the music was making me feel better.” With some songs online, she was invited into the Black Opera creative collective where she honed her intuition for the business side of the music scene. “It takes a lot to pick up on how to do things for yourself, but that’s where I got the motivation to go toward the light at the end of the this tunnel—eventually, I’ll get somewhere. I feel like I’m starting to get somewhere!”
The band comes together
That journey went from solo-to-shared as bassist Noor Us-Sabah became a collaborator. Us-Sabah helped to flesh out her songs, but they wanted to add some beats, so they teamed with drummer Chris Jones. Davis’ impressionistic and breezy method of guitar strumming begged for a more meticulous lead to bring in extra flourish, which is why guitarist Joel Harris was invited to complete the quartet. “And as with Sade—the name of the lead singer is also the name of the band,” said Dani Darling.
Concerning the others in the band, Darling says that while they support her emotionally, her songs, and the music they make together, can have healing powers, as well. “We’re at a space, now, where the ambiance, the fullness of the vibe, is right where I want it, and it’s all because of them.”
Tune in to 1700am on November 1st to hear an in-studio interview with Dani Darling. The band performs at Dreamland Theatre in Ypsilanti on November 16.
Dani Darling’s music is on soundcloud.com. You can follow the band on facebook.com/danidarlingmusic.