Dana and Alden Shine Brighter Than Ever On Their Sophomore LP ‘Coyote, You're My Star’ [Album Review]

Olive Soki

Every so often, when it feels as though all the planets have aligned, there comes a time when one cannot help themselves from thanking their lucky star (or coyote) and recognizing the serendipitous nature of life. It is in these moments of recognition that we, not only get to enjoy the hand we were dealt with outmost freedom, but also stumble upon the right words and sounds to express our gratitude and zest for life. Celebrating that, and much more, Oregon’s Acid Jazz duo, Dana and Alden’s sophomore LP, Coyote, You're My Star, is ‌an anthemic collection of songs that express grace for the present and hope for the future.

Building off of the sound they debut on their first EP, Brothers, and later developed on their 2023 LP, Quiet Music for Young People, Coyote, You're My Star, is their discography’s chiseled out David. A work of art that will only get better with time.

Speaking on the coincidental path that led to the record Alden shares, “I don’t think people ever expected a brother duo consisting of a Tik Tok comedian and an organic farmer to make Acid Jazz. We never expected coyotes to start howling outside of our studio, instantly becoming the muse of the first song off the album. After that, we composed songs about everything that makes us feel alive: our mom’s garden, Anthony Bourdain, and frozen chocolate bananas. We sought out to make a Jazz album that sounded new and old at the same time. (...) We made this record full of the same wonder we felt that night in the coyote’s yowls.”

Starting with the title track, a subtle call back to the album's mysterious patron, “Coyote, Your My Star” is a sweet and rambunctious ode to unabashed love. Starting out in a tame and charming fashion, the track eventually grows into an explosive and encouraging cry for passion. This opener is followed by “ You Can Do Anything,” a hopeful anthem which sees the ensemble build a soundscape which oozes determination and creativity - much like the titular sentiment. The third track, “Ivan’s Theme,” which also marks one of the smoothest transitions on the album, is a classic interlude. A complete change of scenery it is almost reminiscent of themes found on cinematic soundtracks (think “Amore mio aiutami” or “la strada”). Without exhausting their talents or giving to much away the first three tracks are an excellent primer as to the journey ahead.

The mid-section of the album is lined with, exquisite, and not so subtle, gems. “Garden Family,” which features, jazz and soul vocalist Melanie Charles, honors nature’s role in Dana and Alden’s mother’s recovery, “Bourdain,” composed by key contributor Salim Charvet, is an ode to the late chef and cultural figure, Anthony Bourdain, and one of my favorites, “Maria,” is a deliciously groovy and spell-binding track sure to sweep you off your feet. Marked by a swift interlude (“PB”) the last few songs see them turn a new leaf. Audibly dynamic and determined tracks like “Chocobanano” and “Popular Front” are imposing and thought provoking note to bookend the record.

 Superimposed by a vast soundscape, which inhabits various emotional climates, dynamics and textures, Coyote, You're My Star paints a bigger picture, that of which is only completed once you reach the closing reprise “Return of the Coyote.” Glittery and smooth, Dana and Alden manage to progressively add layers to the familiar refrain, eventually allowing the isolated sentiments explored earlier in the album to, in a true to life fashion, expand in breadth and complexity.

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