Although the band Dorothy’s debut album was called Rockisdead, it proved the exact opposite–their band, led by lead singer and namesake Dorothy Martin, help prove that rock was still very much alive. Their work quickly drew comparisons to that of the White Stripes, Patti Smith, and everyone in between, as well as earned them opening gigs for Miguel and Halestorm. Critics and fans alike praised their revival of hard rock sound and values (sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll, naturally) along with Martin’s powerhouse vocals. Their third single, the deliciously badass “Wicked Ones,” landed a spot in ad campaigns for Orange is the New Black, Pandora, HBO, and more since its release.
With their sophomore album 28 Days in the Valley, Dorothy embraced a classic rock sound, pumping out tracks with a lot of hazy, frizzled guitar and harmonies that wouldn’t be out of place on ‘70s radio or even the ‘90s festival scene. All of the songs were written by Martin and singer-songwriter/producer Linda Perry, lead singer and primary songwriter of 4 Non Blondes. “It definitely has more feminine energy…It has a lighter and brighter feel, with less metal influence and more Stones. It has a cool desert vibe.” Martin explained in her interview with Go See Live Music. The album tackles love, regret, and redemption, taking a hard look at some of Martin’s more personal experiences over the years and celebrating their life as a band. Lyrically, the album trends towards simplicity; many of the songs have very repetitive choruses, some of which sound more suited to live shows than recordings.
“Flawless,” the first single and lead track on 28 Days in the Valley, quickly demonstrates Dorothy’s shift in sound. Where Rockisdead was heavily influenced by hard rock and metal, “Flawless” mixes acoustic and electric guitar for a more vulnerable sound–perfect for its more personal lyrics. The lyrics describe a roller coaster of feelings following a bad breakup, going through devastation, acceptance of her own imperfections, and finally embracing the support of others. From here Dorothy kicks it up a notch with the harder sounds of the Jefferson Airplane-esque “Who Do You Love” and the chaotic ode to the open road “Freedom,” both of which showcase Martin’s sheer vocal power.
The album’s highlights are the songs that trend towards darker feelings, ones that call back to Rockisdead while exploring this new classic rock-inspired sound. “Black Tar and Nicotine” delves into Martin’s regrets–the lying, drinking, and drugs that compromised some of her young adult years. The success of this song lies in its ability to balance this personal vulnerability with their heavy guitar, be it in a more languid style than some of their earlier fare. The dreamy “Philadelphia” plays Martin’s new Stevie Nicks vibes against a wailing guitar solo. With lyrics like “Love me in the night/Hate me when you’re gone/Leave me in the storm when the lust is gone/Love me in the night,” “Philadelphia” is dark, hypnotic, and sexy.
Unfortunately for 28 Days in the Valley, a few tracks might have been better on the cutting room floor. Songs like “Pretty When You’re High” and “On My Knees” both disrupt the album–”Pretty When You’re High” with its overly repetitive lyrics, and “On My Knees” with its distracting references to other songs. Perhaps the most disruptive track is “Mountain,” a folk-inspired song that trends too much in the campfire singalong direction, though with admittedly good harmonies.
Rockisdead helped prove that rock wasn’t, in fact, dead–28 Days in the Valley helps prove the same for classic rock. Songs here make it easy to draw comparisons to acts like Jefferson Airplane or Stevie Nicks, though Dorothy maintains their own identity throughout, allowing them to experiment with a more commercial sound without alienating their existing fans. Their powerhouse vocal presence, skilled guitar work, and newfound classic rock edge make this album one that will appeal to new and old fans alike. That said, 28 Days in the Valley could have been stronger with deeper editing; cutting the more disruptive tracks would have made for a tighter, more seamless album.