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Spotlight on: Remember That I Love You by Kimya Dawson

Cover of Remember That I Love You by Kimya Dawson Kimya Dawson, Remember That I Love You

Kimya Dawson's second album for K Records continues the legacy displayed to such great effect on its critically acclaimed predecessor, Hidden Vagenda. Two of its songs were previously released on a self-titled EP with Matty Pop Chart. With some of the most engaging and genuinely emotional songwriting available, Remember That I Love You is the kind of album that you listen to with a group of friends, or with people who will soon become your friends. When you listen to it alone, it will simply remind you that you, indeed, are loved.

"Tire Swing" begins Remember That I Love You with the kind of light-hearted reminiscence at which Dawson excels. She has an amazing ability to assemble a string of seemingly stream-of-consciousness phrases into a memorable narrative with a catchy hook. Lines like "I never met a Tobey that I didn't like" (one of them, Matt Tobey -- Matty Pop Chart himself -- appears on several songs) simply cannot be found on any other artist's albums. Paul Baribeau's sparse supporting vocals lend something special.

"Loose Lips" is a ditty full of terrific (often rude) rat-a-tat wordplay (you can occasionally hear Dawson gasp a breath) with a fun protestational chorus, "We won't stop until somebody calls the cops, and even then, we'll start again, and just pretend that nothing ever happened," the title of the album, and a good deal of politics. "I Like Giants" was inspired by a conversation with Genevieve Elverum (Woelv), and its narrative style includes a good portion of that talk, along with Dawson's response to it. Lines like "I am just a speck of dust inside a giant's eye" and "I like giants, especially girl giants," accompanied by Matt Tobey on ukulele and Erin Tobey on bells, result in a fairy-tale sound that could be its own nursery rhyme.

"France" is "mostly about what a good friend, musician, and dancer [David-Ivar Herman Düne] is" and is based on his song "Sheer Wonder." It is a sweet reminiscence with a beautiful mandolin underline (again from Jake Kelly) and YouTube has a film of Kimya and David duetting on the original. Some parts of the melody are a little out of her range, but the genuine feeling comes through.

Darker themes rear their heads on Remember That I Love You, as well, but always in a form that makes them a little less scary. Some of the lyrics, like in "Better Weather," are really obscure on the surface, but they still manage to get their meaning across through the feeling. "My Mom" is an amazing melange of nightmares, Kimya's ill mother, and Sesame Street. Her initial frantic delivery softens later for effect, showing that it's not just the words and music that matter here, but how they're heard. (Similarly, Jake Kelly's violin provides a nice accompaniment to Dawson's gravelly singing on "Caving In.")

"The Competition" was written in response to a request by Esopus Magazine for songs about imaginary friends. Dawson's inspiration was a description sent in to the magazine by Mia Gomez ("Type A at the age of 5!") and the song first appeared on the CD enclosed with the Spring 2005 issue. The description was merely a springboard for her own ideas, though, and if you read the linked description (also called "The Competition"), you'll see how different the voices in Dawson's head are from Gomez's. "I Miss You" is thirty-seven seconds of longing. The shortest song by far, it practically requires a second listen, just to make sure you heard what you thought you heard.

M.J. Geier and Kimya wrote "12/26" in response to the 2004 tsunami disaster and, among other things, they compare it to America's own date-related tragedy. It's pretty intense lyrically ("everyone she's ever loved is gone, gone, gone"), though the Matt Tobey's ukulele lightens things up a bit, but only as far as making the subject a more tolerable listen. If the music were droning, the emotions would be unbearable.

Luckily, this is followed by "My Rollercoaster," an ode to touring, and the happiest, most upbeat song on Remember That I Love You, reminding us that actually "[gets] paid for being Kimya Dawson." Also included are several songs that Dawson lists as her favorite sing-alongs (like Willie Nelson's "On the Road Again," Metallica's "One," and Third Eye Blind's "Semi-Charmed Life") and the album ends with a big mixed chorus of "Life is a highway and I'm gonna ride it, and everyday's a winding road, yeah! My rollercoaster's got the biggest ups and downs. As long as it keep goin' round, it's unbelievable."

And, then, just when you're about to join in on the chorus yourself, the album is over, just like that, with no closing other than a final guitar strum. It seems short, anyway, at only thirty-five minutes, but the abrupt ending makes it moreso. Luckily, it's easy to start over from the beginning and enjoy Kimya Dawson's particular brand of folk-rock (and the art by Jeffrey Lewis) once again, as she states repeatedly to each and every listener, "Remember That I Love You."

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