"Though the relatively pat idea of “old-soul”-ism is, at this point, just an easy way to refer to someone with good, timeless taste, it’s refreshing to see a new renaissance of sharp-tongued folkie revivalists ready to once again blur the past and the present, mused by kin spirits across the historical coil. So if it’s not immediately apparent by one listen to Wild Abandon, a clear daughter of the late ‘70s, situate Meghan Dowlen as a daughter of the thick, Macon Georgia woods. Consider it a fundamentally wild town – wild with ghosts (the Allman Brothers Band, Otis Redding, Lena Horne, et. al), wild with heat, wild with tension, just suffused with wildness, plain and pure. Dowlen, who’s inhaled Macon, exhaled her forebears' wisdom, and woven it into her own worldview, makes music like a conduit between time and space.

Like all good prodigies, her foundation was a nutritious soil, largely made up of the jazz records her father played throughout her Georgian childhood. Bluesy stuff, the entire back catalog of Three Dog Night, and his own band, in a home studio devoted to music like it were a shrine - all of it made for the backdrop of the rangy, roaming sensibility she holds so close. A genre-wanderer (that still feels apparent in Wild Abandon), she loped from style to form. She starred in dark wave and no-wave bands in her early twenties, exploring the tops and bottoms of post-punk and the unlimited possibilities of the synthesizer. “I feel the whole journey, though” she says, “has been about surrendering to the self, swimming in creation, and stepping fully into a real vision of who I am.” 

Honing her voice, honoring it – a lifelong practice for most, but Dowlen’s far along as it is –makes this album feel a little spiritual. Elegant strokes of wordplay, a peculiar twang, and its timbre - a flexible, muscular, tricksy soprano - hers is one that moves. At times you get the affectations of Angel Olsen by way of Roy Orbison, but then there’s the twining quietude of Jessica Pratt, the funny, graceful saunter of Van Dyke Parks; a bit of that freaky-folky Vashti Bunyan, too. She’s capable of exalting love, but knows that it won’t last forever; to Dowlen, there’s a perfect struggle between the heart and loss, the city and the country, joy and sorrow-- but she sounds thrilled by these frameworks, charmed to be a romantic trying to find her way through. 

Her journey feels like an apotheosis, always. From love, to genre, to South Macon, the Ocmulgee river, Atlanta, and back again, “I think at some point,” she says, “I just kind of made it back where I started.” So there’s something situating in her single, “Games,” despite the emotional playtime the track suggests. From that humid bassline, to the brilliant string section whirling like a curlicue around the horns…ah. It’s a cool breeze blowing through a dark bar in the middle of a hot day. It’s fun to be in love and understand it’s course, to be so in control of its ups-and-downs that you can paean it. A woman who can begin a track with a wily, Nancy Sinatra-esque declaration like “I don’t wanna believe it’s true, but I know it is,” is a woman I’d trust with a lot. 

“Fantasy,” though - her second single - now that’s motion made commotion. A four-on-the-floor, a disco stomp, a ululating twirl up and down an arpeggio like a down-home Donna Summer - it’s all clear why her affinities with magic, tarot, the natural world, all manners of mystagogic tendencies, poke through even in one of her most orchestrally-baroque pieces, like something out of Mirage-era Fleetwood Mac. 

Because Wild Abandon, in a funny way, is a document of surrender. It’s of giving to, not giving in. It’s of letting go, but not letting that stop you. Like the Allman Brothers that live inside her, she’s born (and reborn) a thoroughly ramblin’ woman."
-Mina Tavakoli

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