Since the 1990s, singer-songwriter Louise Eatock has performed as Flaming June with several different line-ups. A collaborative artist, she brings many new ideas to the fore and violinist Alex Herring joins her to bring new music to life. Influenced by Patti Smith, Phoebe Bridgers and Nick Cave, Flaming June has a unique, experimental and obscure sound. The group has been featured on various publications and radio stations, including BBC6 Music, and have a reputation for slightly provocative music. The latest addition to their repertoire is ‘The Ballad of Daniel Dawson’.
Built on the rather dark tale of Daniel Dawson, ‘The Ballad of Daniel Dawson’ is an eclectic combination of folk, indie and rock. Flaming June explain that this single “tells a true tale of a young man who was convicted of poisoning horses to fix the races in the town of Newmarket…He was hanged at Castle Hill prison in Cambridge in 1812. The song is sung from the point of view of the judge but it does focus on the injustice and rather harsh penalties of the time…”
As is mentioned, the narrative is from the perspective of the judge at Dawson’s trial and adds a more engaging element to the track; however, there remains an objective distance making it seem more storytelling than personal experience. A combination of guitar, violin, drums and interspersed keyboard, ‘The Ballad of Daniel Dawson’ has a toe-tapping feel but there is something more ominous lying beneath the joviality. It reminds me of those tunes by folk singers who dip into the darker, grittier side of life with addictive melodies.
Beautifully executed, Eatock’s rich vocals add an otherworldly haunting to this, oh let’s say it, “creepy” tale. Yet, alongside the storytelling lyricism, Flaming June adds a note to point out the injustices and corruption in authority figures. According to the group, ‘The Ballad of Daniel Dawson’ “gives Daniel Dawson a posthumous voice when he says “I smell hypocrisy and “I’m just one cheat among many”. In a simplistic and enchanting way, the kaleidoscopic sound makes us sit back and contemplate how hypocritical and unjust the world is – then and now.
In addition to the single, Flaming June released an official music video for ‘The Ballad of Daniel Dawson’. As much as I wanted to watch the video, it was too difficult to view in its entirety. The video contains strobe-like lighting effects that can cause seizures in people with photosensitive epilepsy and, as advocates for epilepsy awareness, we must warn people about this. Watch at your own discretion.