Dorothy ensures us that rock ‘n’ roll is still alive and kicking.
Nowadays, it’s difficult to make a rock ‘n’roll record without it sounding like a parody of itself. Far too often, contemporary takes on gritty lifestyles devoted to sex and drugs feel forced or derivative. Perhaps that’s why the Los Angeles-based quintet, Dorothy, declared that Rockisdead with their debut in 2016. Yet, the band decided to resuscitate the genre just two years later on 28 Days in the Valley. With a highly energetic bluesy rock, dosed with a few tabs of acid, the album affirms that rock and roll is anything but dead. 28 Days in the Valley, buoyed by singer Dorothy Martin’s powerhouse vocals and lyrical bite, captures an authentic rock and roll spirit and struts with a direct and unapologetic feminine energy.
The album kicks off with its first single, “Flawless,” a high-octane kiss-off to a former lover. With crunchy guitars and a larger-than-life hook, “Flawless” is a ready-made arena-rock anthem full of emotional resolve and musical energy. Its opening lines are replete with frank and vivid imagery and are bolstered by Martin’s rough-hewn delivery: “You said you loved me but you threw me out in the garbage/ I’m starting to stink but everyone knows I’m flawless.” The song is simultaneously a fuck you and self-love anthem.
The following track, “Who Do You Love,” cranks this energy up to eleven, with a rambling double-time beat that propels a blazing guitar lick. With extended vocal soars, Martin does her best Grace Slick impression, but she threshes her throat in a way that makes the Jefferson Airplane psychedelia approach the particular rebelliousness of studded-leather rock and roll.
These rebellious energies permeate the whole album, but are particularly forceful on “On My Knees” and “We Are STAARS.” A bluesy psychedelic squall, “On My Knees” courses with libidinal electricity, filled with “Dirty sheets [that are] gonna catch fire.” Channeling the orgasmic cries and otherworldly instrumentation of the second half of Led Zeppelin’s “Dazed and Confused,” the song climaxes with Martin at her most uninhibited: “You want me so bad you can’t even see straight/ I see you baby/ Shaking my ass.” The band transforms this sexiness into the punk thrashing of “We Are STAARS,” pushing the album’s adrenaline to its absolute peak.
Even the album’s less aggressive songs carry a hefty weight. On “Freedom,” Martin conjures the gospel soars of Beyonce and gives them a bluesy rock edge, combining for the album’s most memorable chorus. “White Butterfly” assumes an Eddie Vedder vocal power, but deconstructs itself during a poignant keyboard-driven bridge section. “Black Tar and Nicotine” lays bare the now-sober Martin’s former struggles with addiction and does so with blues guitar runs and an impressive vocal vulnerability.
That said, a few less than stellar tracks populate the album. For example, “Mountain” sits somewhere between a cheesy campfire sing-along and a boring lullaby, and despite its groovy guitar rhythms, “Pretty When You’re High” misses the mark with its uninspired lyrics. Even further, the title track is nothing but two minutes of cheap Western filler.
Altogether though, 28 Days in the Valley has some incredible highs, throttling throughout with good old rock and roll grit, bluesy licks and a psychedelic haze. The album ensures that the genre is not dead at all. With 28 Days in the Valley, Dorothy ensures us that rock ‘n’ roll is still alive and kicking.