b. USA. Guitarist and singer-songwriter Cynthia Dall was originally based in Sacramento, California, USA, before moving to San Francisco to join Bill Callahan’s band Smog in 1994. Though she continued to be an intrinsic part of that unit for the next three years, her solo debut album followed in 1996. Its cryptic packaging acknowledged neither a title nor the artist herself. It included songs such as ‘Christmas (California)’ and a track sung in Russian about an obsessive stalker. As Dall admitted to the UK’s Melody Maker magazine, ‘I just didn’t want my name on it. It’s like writing an essay at school; you know in your bones it’s pretty good, but you just don’t know what to call it.’ Despite some obvious confusion as to their source of origin, the songs received strong reviews for their author’s unconventional and affecting songwriting.
Little was heard from Dall following the release of the album and the sundering of her relationship with Callahan and Smog. Out of the blue a new solo collection, Sound Restores Young Men, was released in 2002. Despite the album boasting better production and a more fully realized sound, Dall’s songwriting remained distinctly unsettling with her glacial vocals adding to the creepy atmosphere.