Reviews

Personal, political, and otherwise: King Kendrick rules Pazz & Jop  Village Voice, January 22, 2018  “Then I’d add that my own 2017 was rendered more bearable by three pieces of moderately amazing political art — in two cases satirical, in one case kind of punk, and in zero cases recognized by my fellow critics. Ladies, gentlemen, and others, I give you piano-playing singer-songwriter Dawn Oberg’s one-mention three-song lounge EP Nothing Rhymes With Orange, from whence I borrowed the “walking slab of brain damage beneath a bad toupee” crack above; Hamell on Trial’s 290th place folk-punk Tackle Box, in which our president’s “I’d like to punch him in the face, I’ll tell ya” opens a record that insults cops, analyzes oppression, embraces fatherhood, savors lust, looks death in the eye, and makes room for four kiddie songs about a frog; and — most dismaying given P&J’s ever-burgeoning hip-hop consciousness — Joey Bada$$’s 203th place All-Amerikkkan Bada$$, a straight-up anti-racist message album that starts sweet to soften up the hoi polloi and gets tougher as it goes.” – Robert Christgau

Robert Christgau on some serious anti-Trump music  Noisey.Vice.com, Dec. 22, 2017  It’s not good that the most satisfying anti-Trump “long player” yet to surface comprises three compact download-only songs by a Berklee-trained Nashville-to-Frisco lounge DIY-er. But the not good part is the paucity of alternatives—Oberg is a serious talent who gets some nasty licks in. The title track marches smartly from “A walking slab of brain damage beneath a bad toupee” to “He can’t grab my snatch but he can bite my bloody rag” without deigning to utter the name of the “orange-tweeting twat” who rhymes with “dump/And stump and chump and bump and lump and hump and slump and rump.” That dirty business done, Oberg declines to address him again. Instead she delivers a rhymed disquisition on “double-blind and peer-reviewed” empirical method that’s over faster than Fats Domino’s “Ain’t That a Shame” while repeating “We all enjoy results of scientific inquiry” three times just in case some dumbass missed the point. And then she bids us and history adieu: “I can see the sunset burning at the end of the world from the end of the continent/The final frame of this ill-fated experiment.” “I’d Rather Be Wrong,” that one is called. It doubts she is. A

These are the 16 best anti-Trump songs from the past year Mic.com, November 8, 2017   This San Francisco-based singer-songwriter, who melds Aimee Mann with New Orleans piano, made waves in 2016 with “It’s 12:01,” an enough-already condemnation of police brutality. This year, she topped that with an entire three-song EP making mincemeat of Trump and his frightening faithful. The title track begins and Oberg’s quickly shaking her head, muttering, “I never should’ve had to write this song,” before a chorus that states clearly, “In any office he’s still just an orange tweeting twat.” She saves a very special invite for the denouement: “He cannot grab my snatch but he can bite my bloody rag.”

Dawn Oberg’s Nothing Rhymes With Orange: 2017’s Funniest Political Album  New York Music Daily, October 25, 2017   “What’s more Halloweenish than Putin’s little bitch in the Oval Office? That’s what Dawn Oberg calls him in the scathingly hilarious, Beatlesque parlor-pop title track of her new ep, Nothing Rhymes with Orange…What’s more Halloweenish than Putin’s little bitch in the Oval Office? That’s what Dawn Oberg calls him in the scathingly hilarious, Beatlesque parlor-pop title track of her new ep, Nothing Rhymes with Orange.”

The 50 Best Protest Songs of 2016 Village Voice, December 21, 2016 Dawn Oberg, “It’s 12:01”
Oberg’s country-tinged rock is an unlikely genre for condemning police brutality, but her tribute to Alex Nieto, Mario Woods, and other victims of San Francisco’s police force is both searing and affecting. Its arrival this year hit even harder since, in March, a jury cleared Nieto’s killers of wrongdoing in a civil suit brought by Nieto’s parents. — Z.B

SPIN’s 7 Favorite Songs of the Week, SPIN July 29, 2016  “Dawn Oberg, “It’s 12:01″ (Self-Released)  It’s entirely possible that San Franciscan singer-songwriter Dawn Oberg already had written half of “It’s 12:01” before Luis Gongora was killed; the inevitability of racist police killing is indeed, as the Randy Newman-esque piano-pounder dubs, “a local and a national shame.” Oberg remembers more slain victims’ names in three minutes than a whole week of the RNC (or — quite frankly — the DNC either) and nails her white ally duty in one couplet: “It’s 12:01 motherf**ckers / Past time to change the guard at the gate.” It’s the chorus because it bears repeating. — DAN WEISS”

The Dean takes a deep dive into the works of San Francisco singer-songwriter Dawn Oberg and Detroit rapper DeJ Loaf.  Rye: A, Bring: A- Noisey.Vice “Oberg sings in an alto that doesn’t actually go flat when it modulates way down as is its wont. Delivering nine expertly wrought songs in 27 minutes, she plays acoustic piano over G-B-D with jazz gestalt, zero-plus solos, and a beat more martial than swinging.” -ROBERT CHRISTGAU

DAWN OBERG: BRING July 10, 2015 LA RECORD “…Wry, gently bitter yet faintly humming with the kind of optimism that must see rainbows flashing out of dumpsters or go mad, these nine songs are like a chapbook from west coast rock’s own Gertrude Stein.” -RON GARMON

Dawn Oberg Brings Her Devastating Wit and Catchy Piano Songs to NYC  June 12, 2015, New York Music Daily. The San Francisco-based chamber pop songwriter never met a pun she could resist, sings them in a cool jazz-informed alto and plays a mean piano, drawing equally on gospel and classic soul music. You could call her the missing link between Aimee Mann and Randy Newman, but her songs are warmer than Mann’s, and where Mann’s muse is opiates, Oberg’s is booze. And Oberg doesn’t fall back on music biz insider snark like Newman does.” -DELARUE

The RUMPUS Interview with Dawn Oberg May 29, 2013 TheRumpus.net “The songs on her newest album, Rye, are jazzy and accessible, hitting classic rock and country targets with ease. Her lyrics can be witty but sincere, honest but sarcastic. They are also frequently hilarious, drawing on unique images and turns of phrase that recall John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats…” -ROB RUBSAM

New Music for Summer: Dawn Oberg, Miguel, The Bird and The Bee. KQED, July 25, 2015 “…The San Franciscan brings to mind a line of tuneful cultural anthropologists, from Van Dyke Parks to New York jazz wit Blossom Dearie (and Oberg’s voice, while very different from Dearie’s coo, is equally distinct for its conversational naturalism). And through Dearie, we may as well draw a line right back to the heart of the Algonquin, Dorothy Parker herself…” -STEVE HOCHMAN

Aged to Maturity: Singer Dawn Oberg Makes a Wry Return to Music City Nashville Scene, April 22, 2013.  “…Piano-based, whiskey-soaked dive-bar balladry style through songs that cast a sardonic eye on love and loss.” -RANDY FOX

Q&A: High-Maintenance Singer Dawn Oberg. April 2, 2013, Portland Monthly. Bay Area musician Dawn Oberg is a true revelation. She has two excellent albums under her belt and a popular regular gig at San Francisco’s Rite Spot Cafe. Her latest record, Rye, is a triumphant collection of razor-sharp piano pop that’s brilliant and bracing. Her substantial wit, musical sophistication, and jazzy phrasing remind me of a more sardonic Carole King—a painfully honest, verbally dexterous, and fearless songwriter with a whopping gift for pop song construction. – JOHN CHANDLER

Dawn Oberg’s new album: Through the Bottom of a Glass Darkly New York Music Daily, April 17, 2013. “Oberg keeps the humor deadpan and lets her images speak for themselves…The only other lyrical rock albums from this year that compare with this are Ward White’s surreal, sinister Bob, and LJ Murphy’s new one…” – ALAN YOUNG

Rye Bred: an interview with singer-songwriter Dawn Oberg. Chicago Pride, 2013 “Her lived-in voice is that of experience and she maintains a singular sense of humor. Smart and refreshing songs such as “Gentleman And A Scholar,” “Girl Who Sleeps With Books,” “Contortions” and “Civic High” grab your attention and before you know it you’re singing along with Oberg…” -GREGG SHAPIRO

Dawn Oberg is just getting started at 46 San Francisco Chronicle, October 3, 2012 “Oberg’s music shines, as she is a spectacular crooner able to embrace the dark cloud of heartache and celebrate it through song.” -TONY DUSHANE