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Dafni | Drifting in Circles

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Drifting in Circles

by Dafni

"Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Dafni's second album, Drifting in Circles, combines dream-like waltzes with jazzy-pop and folk tunes, to create a charming record that holds up to repeated spins."---Kevin Zarnett, Muse's Muse
Genre: Pop: Delicate
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Blue-eyed Boy
4:00 $0.50
2. Dance
4:47 $0.50
3. Falling
4:29 $0.50
4. Norma
3:00 $0.50
5. Song For George
4:01 $0.50
6. One Day
2:29 $0.50
7. Send My Love
3:59 $0.50
8. I Don't Mean to Disappoint You
2:34 $0.50
9. Cheesy Love Song
3:38 $0.50
10. Saturday
2:35 $0.50
11. Best Day
2:51 $0.50
12. The Wind and the Rain
1:28 $0.50
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Hi there! Why not buy my CDs, "Drifting in Circles" and "Red," as "$5 Specials"? Support indie artists and discover some new music that otherwise you might not hear. Click "Add to cart" above for details. Cheers! Dafni


Dafni's second album, Drifting in Circles, is a collection of twelve melodic pop songs that conjure up a variety of moods: a smoky Parisian nightclub, a sunset drink at Venice Beach, the loss of loved ones, romantic candlelit evenings, and a yearning for more sleep. In 2004, Dafni released her debut album, Red, a CD on which she sang and played most of the instruments (guitar, bass, and piano) and recorded herself in her apartment in Los Angeles. Some of those songs had been around since the late nineties and finally found their home. In contrast, the new album's songs were all written after the release of Red, and there's a distinct shift away from the folky/country girl-with-acoustic-guitar style to a professional recording, a full band sound, and a more mature introspection.

"This record is a hundred times better than my Red album," says Dafni. "The songs are better. I was learning 'God Bless the Child' and 'My Funny Valentine' so I started incorporating some of those jazz chords into my new songs. That has completely changed the way I write now. Also, I saw Eleni Mandell play here in L.A. and I was inspired to challenge myself to write in a more sophisticated style. I think my playing is better now and my singing is better, but the biggest difference between the sound of these two albums is my band. I've been so lucky to find such wonderful musicians who have spent so much time with me working on the songs."

Dafni built up her band slowly over a period of about six months. She was introduced to pianist Craig Bender through a mutual friend and coworker at UCLA. "Craig picked up the songs really fast. He has a very lyrical style that adds so much to my sound." Dafni found her drummer, Alejandra Cuesta, through a traditional L.A. source: the back pages of Music Connection magazine. "It's pretty much hit-or-miss when you post an ad there, but Alejandra was the first to reply and we hit it off straight away. She's very musical with her drumming and is comfortable with the different styles I write. And she introduced me to Yannig." Yannig Luthra was the bass player on Drifting in Circles. Finally, after deciding that she wanted to have accordion on her record, and knowing that her friend Maggie's brother played one, Dafni got in touch with Josh Bandur. "Josh is very mature, intelligent, and tasteful with his playing. And I tell everyone that he looks like an accordion player---he just needs a beret and some suspenders!"

Another major influence on the sound of Drifting in Circles was Dafni's chance encounter with the album's engineer and co-producer, Jeb Lipson. "Originally I was thinking of recording this record myself again, but with my band. There was no way that ProTools Free [bare-bones, eight-track recording software] was an option again!" she laughs. "My friend Jay works as an engineer and he was helping me decide on what to buy---stuff I don't know anything about, like compressors and pre-amps. It would have been very expensive! I found a guy on Craigslist who was selling something I was interested in. It was Jeb. He told me about his studio and when I found out how much it would cost to spend a week recording and mixing, I realized that it would actually be cheaper and sound better than anything I could do myself." The recording at Big Scary Tree studios in downtown L.A. ended up taking about four months of part-time sessions on weekends and weeknights. "I loved the whole recording process. I loved being in the studio and taking part in the process of developing the songs and watching them come together. Jeb and I hit it off. He's a musician himself and it was wonderful to run into someone who cares. He put his whole heart and soul into this project."

The songs on Drifting in Circles arose from diverse sources of inspiration. "'Falling' is my major-seventh lovefest!" laughs Dafni. The song was written from an image in the film Baraka of a homeless boy and was combined with a feeling of loss for a loved one. It features Tom Terrell on trumpet. "Tom is a star in the making. He's got a lot of taste and soul in his playing---he knows when to hold back and when to go for it." "Norma" is a song that Dafni wrote as her "little way of honoring a remarkable woman." It describes a wake attended by former colleagues of Dafni's research advisor from graduate school. "It just was amazing how many people loved her and how many lives she had touched." The accordion on this song is significant---Norma's husband used to play the instrument. "I originally wanted him to play on the record, but it was in storage in England and he hadn't played in years. That led to meeting Josh." The song "Dance" is something completely new to Dafni's sound. It has a Latin groove and conjures up images of balmy summer nights in the south of Spain, flamenco dancers, and soaring passions. "'Dance' was a real challenge for me. I wasn't writing about how sad I was or how I missed someone---just writing from another woman's point of view. It's quite hot and steamy---at least to my mind!" Dafni's former job inspired at least one of the songs. "I was at a low point during my research job as a postdoc at UCLA. A lot of the time things don't work and it becomes really frustrating. I kept a guitar in my lab; I locked the door and wrote 'One day' really quickly. The lyrics---'one day I'll wake and this will all be a dream'---are quite over-the-top and funny, I think!" The arrangement of this song on the album is very sprightly; a jazzy Americana feel that features Brian Robbins on banjo. "Brian's my guitar teacher and I'm so happy that he played on the album." Another stylistic turn---this time into classic rock territory---occurs with the song "Send my love," which Dafni wrote after listening to the Ziggy Stardust album. "I don't think it sounds like a David Bowie song, but all those barre chords inspired me." "Send my love" features Robbins' slide electric guitar. "Jeb was pretty pleased to get a vintage tone that reminded him of Ry Cooder on Paris, Texas."

Dafni grew up in Wisconsin, the daughter of Greek immigrants. She took to organ at an early age and throughout school played bass guitar, French horn, and piano. One of her earliest musical achievements was the writing and arranging of an eighties pop instrumental, "Tough guy". "I had a crush on boy at my school," she recalls. "I wrote all the parts on the organ and transposed it for all of the other instruments and then hearing it all come together with the jazz band was the most amazing experience for a 12-year-old!" Dafni continued to write sporadically during high school, but put her music aside during her college years. Only in her senior year at UW Madison did she begin to playing piano again at open mikes, turning to the acoustic guitar when the events moved outdoors in the summer months.

Moving to Los Angeles solidified Dafni's love of the guitar. She started playing regularly on the Sunset Strip at the now-defunct Crooked Bar. "I played their Monday open mike and the booking agent heard me and said they had an opening for that Friday night---I knew only about five songs and I couldn't believe that I could get a gig in Hollywood!" After a couple of years of playing solo gigs and recording a four-song EP (2001's Dreamland), Dafni and two graduate school colleagues formed a folk/punk band, Stay at Home. "We pretty much rocked up my songs. I played my acoustic guitar though a distortion pedal. We had some really good musical moments. I learned a lot about being in a band." Stay at Home recorded an EP---they disbanded in 2003 and it was never released---but the recording process inspired Dafni to record her Red CD herself. "Compared to Drifting in Circles, my Red album now sounds pretty amateurish to me, but I think recording it was a necessary process. I got the old songs out of my system and I learned about microphones and multitracking." The album received some airplay on radio stations playing folk and women's music. Reviewing Red, Suzanne Glass of Indie-Music.com said, "Dafni has a rich and expressive voice, with considerable flexibility and a chic modern hipness. [She] blends rhythmic acoustic guitar, like [Ani] DiFranco, with a smooth full vocal that slides and exudes attitude, like [Billie] Holiday." The analogy was furthered by Amy Lotsberg, writing for Collected Sounds: "[Red] is filled with lush songs that are at the same time raw. The production is warm and solid. She has a great vibrato that skates over the melodies nicely...a touch of Ani DiFranco's edginess that is quite appealing. This girl is truly a musician."

Currently Dafni continues to play with her band, now featuring Geoff Rakness on upright bass, in support the Drifting in Circles album, but her eyes are already on its successor. "Actually, I'd love to release an album a year over the next few years. I have four or five new songs finished, and a two or three more that are pretty solid ideas." Currently Dafni's favorite albums include Madeleine Peyroux's Careless Love, Inara George's All Rise, and Ry Cooder's Chavez Ravine. "I love the sounds of the songs on these records. For my next album, I think I'll concentrate a lot more on the sounds than on the songs. I may need a producer. Are you listening, Ry Cooder?"



to write a review

Kevin Zarnett, Muse's Muse

"A charming record that holds up to repeated spins"
Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Dafni's second album, "Drifting in Circles", combines dream-like waltzes with jazzy-pop and folk tunes, to create a charming record that holds up to repeated spins.

The band set-up seems more typical of jazz, with drums, bass and piano frequently accompanying Dafni's acoustic guitar, adding able touches of accordion and trumpet to the mix. Of note, pianist Craig Bender offers up many tasty parts throughout the disc. Part of what works on the album, is how the band comes together to create many interesting and adventurous musical moments, sometimes within the same song, often heightening the transition from verse to chorus with cool rhythmic changes and melodic shifts. The later is most evident on the take-your-chances Latin groove of "Dance", and the switch from the slide guitar driven, bluesy opening of "Send My Love", to its heartfelt wishing chorus - a definite highlight.

"Norma" is the kind of song that could quiet down a noisy coffeehouse, while "Song for George" almost lets loose into a full-fledged pop song, keeping a toe in jazzy water. The breezy "One Day" showcases a banjo as a breath of fresh air, with a welcoming, almost old-timey feel. Further, amidst a handful of dreamy songs, there is also the carefree jazz of lazing about on a "Saturday".

Dafni's voice is likeable and inviting, especially in the quieter moments, though by no means ever close to strong and overpowering (though that type of singing isn’t really called for on this set of tunes). Despite a couple of pitch issues here and there, she never lets her daring melodies down.

The album's title, "Drifting in Circles" seems quite appropriate, as many of songs deal with a kept-up-late type of pondering, examining relationships, asking questions - usually of someone distant, struggling to let go and move on.

This is the case with the album's fine opening track "Blue-Eyed Boy". On this song, and throughout the CD, there's a hint of the flavour that has made Sam Phillips' last two records so intoxicating. Here, Dafni subtly exposes us to some of the heartbroken, mysterious, and unresolved feelings that recur in the album. The imagery used is pretty straightforward, but there are no throwaway lines, even when we get repeated loss or dream language, it usually is in a different shade, ranging from uncertainty to optimism, and dreaming to remembering.

There is nothing stunning about the sound here, but there is a nice clarity, and it is good to hear a singer-songwriter disc that has the vocals up-front in the mix. And wisely, the CD runs just under 40 minutes, which left me eager to revisit some favourite tracks, and ready to re-play the entire album to discover some more.

Amy Lotsberg, Producer of Collected Sounds

If you're yearning for something jazzy-pop like with a slightly old tyme feel...
I reviewed Dafni's CD, "Red" back in January of 2005 and I really liked it. So imagine my happiness to get this one and see that the press kit calls this one "a hundred times better" than "Red"!

While, 'a hundred times' may be a slight exaggeration this is a really nice recording.

I love these songs. She ventures out into a bunch of different genres while maintaining a general style and not letting the record get schizophrenic. The musicianship here is first class.

"Blue-Eyed Boy" is a nice waltz.

"Dance" is a fun, sexy, tango that will make you wish you knew how to ballroom dance (if you already do, then I bet you'll have trouble sitting still)

There are times when her voice is just a tiny hair off of the note. It's so close, so so close?.but I can overlook it because the songs are so good. And when she hits it (which is way more often than not) her voice is very pleasing and sounds great with the style. Her voice really stands out on "I Don't Mean to Disappoint You".

"One Day" reminds me of The Squirrel Nut Zippers. It's not quite that jumpy, but is reminiscent of the style they have. I guess it's the banjo.

I love that she has a song called "Cheesy Love Song". For the record I don't find it cheesy. It's sweet.

Like I said, these are great songs, and Dafni wrote them all herself so we're looking at a very talented young woman.

If you're yearning for something jazzy-pop like with a slightly old tyme feel this is a good choice.

Annette Warner at Coffehouse Tour

Refreshing, original, sweet, fun and full of easy sing-along temperament
Totally enjoyable variety! I really like the stage-ready sound and the flavors run gamut from a laid back Jazz to Latino, and upbeat Mexicana sounds and even some relaxing ‘Parisian’ moods are prevalent. It’s obvious that we have a ‘Circa 40’s’ approach to compiling a CD here and I LOVE IT! Refreshing, original, sweet, fun and full of easy sing-along temperament. Dafni’s vocals are keenly soprano-bred, slammed with a total ‘got it’ and it’s extremely easy to hear each and every word she sings. The music arrangements are stellar – though simple, and it’s a milkshake going down. Makes me want to dance with myself and I want to take a shower with this one playing having learned the words to all the songs. :) Wondering if I can convince Dafni to let me use ‘One Day’ for my musical in progress…

CHT Pick: "Cheesy Love Song”

Anna Maria Stjärnell / Luna Kafé

"A great record in all its varied moods"
Dafni's music is jazzy and melodious, but she's not without tricks up her sleeve. "Blue-Eyed Boy" is a sweet song with an almost forties-inspired instrumentation. She turns up the heat on the Flameco-ish "Dance". It's clearly inspired by Spanish music, but takes its own little detours with it. "I wanna feel your breath against my skin" sings Dafni sensuously.

"One Day" is a playful ditty that looks to the past for inspiration. "I Don't Mean To Disappoint You" sounds a little French, possibly it's because of the accordion. Dafni's singing is loose and lovely. "Cheesy Love Song" is anything but. It's moving and beautiful. Dafni's a true singer and this is a great record in all its varied moods.