nominated best country artist by LA MUSIC CRITIC FOR FIRST HALF OF 2017
- PRAISE FOR THE GLEANER -
“Mark Hodges of Willis-based bluegrass label Mountain Fever Records set up a sister imprint, Travianna Records, specifically for such acts as New Jersey-based Dente, who is a glowing light in that state’s Asbury Park music scene. Her Americana-country Travianna debut, “The Gleaner,” delivers substance in feels, sounds and lyrics. Hodges likes to talk about a marvelous show he saw and heard her put on in Asbury Park. We trust his opinion on such things.”
Tad Dickens, The Roanoke Times
"Tara Dente’s voice is unique and soars like a bird, reminiscent of the great Enya, while the music simply surrounds everything in a beautiful shell that captures the listener’s best memories of life. We could easily just put this album on repeat and listen to it all day, over and over – it’s that good."
"There are musical treasures that should never go overlooked. Tara Dente is an Asbury based singer-songwriter whose sound is absolutely spellbinding. Her second full-length album, The Gleaner was released June 2, 2017, and it is a must-hear. Dente was nominated for an Asbury Music Award in 2014, and in 2016 for Top Female Acoustic Act, and it’s easy to see why with her powerful voice and heartfelt, whimsical stylings."
"Tara Dente wears the skin of her characters in her stories on The Gleaner, fully immersing herself into the drift of desert winds coursing in the temper-fueled tale of “Screens” as she ponders “Could I Be Wrong” on a hard rolling rhythm, shuffles into the nighttime under the non-judgmental light of “The Moon”, and vows “Never Going Home” as she steadfastly moves forward on a perpetual trek for adventure."
Tara Dente is a folk/alternative guitarist, singer-songwriter and NJ native. In her early years, she wrote original compositions for piano, and later in 2007 for voice and guitar. Nick Drake, Enya, The Shins, Johnny Cash and Brooke Fraser are among the influences which would help to shape her songwriting. In 2012, Tara entered the music scene focused around the historic and creatively re-awakened Asbury Park, NJ, and released her first full-length album, "Leave Your Ghosts Behind" in July of 2014. Her second full-length album "The Gleaner", was released on June 2nd, 2017 and is available world-wide. Tara was nominated for an Asbury Music Award in 2014 and 2016 for Top Female Acoustic Act.
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It was right before Christmas, 2015, and I was approaching one full year since I had picked up my little life-- including a dog, a full 16-foot U-Haul, a bachelor's degree in psychology, a guitar, a bag of some of my favorite strong, local coffee, and not nearly enough winter clothing for the January blizzard I would be arriving in--and relocated to Brattleboro, Vermont to try something new. Mountains supplanted the sea, trees replaced familiar strip malls, and urban/suburban white noise was muted by a timeless stillness (I mean, it was quiet). In a bizarre twist, but predictable outcome for a girl raised below New York City and beside Philly, I missed those same things from which I also craved asylum.
I was standing outside the Saint, a mainstay/ critical music venue to the Asbury Park, NJ, local music community since before Asbury “came back”.
Small groups huddled warmly in yellow street lights, whose hazy glow revealed a pile of garbage, sidewalk graffiti, and silhouettes of jaywalkers on a slick, empty side street. Between sets, and sometimes for a greater stretch of time than the music inside, we shared puffs, stories, local news, and guarded affection, the way they do in Jersey. A tall, friendly man approached my little circle to say hello and remind me of our vague knowing of one another. “Hi I’m Dan. I really like your music. I overheard you talking about wanting to record a full-length studio album, and I’d like you to consider letting me produce it.” If those weren’t his exact words, they could’ve been, as Dan Matlack is a straight-shooter. I would quickly learn of his upbringing in Texas, previous career as a pro athlete, and passion for playing and supporting local music. Dan embodies calculated and steady vigor, not unlike the motion and force of a train, and has the ability to galvanize those around him, through his direct and sincere questions and unarming kindness. Often one’s first interaction with Dan involves experiencing his mission to share something; a drink, a conversation, some music.
Dan’s offer was flattering and surprising, and would sit on my mind until a little over a full month later. I had ambitions of funding my own project, and seeing it through on my own terms. There is nothing I relinquish more sourly than my autonomy and independence, even when a good thing slaps me in the face. New to musical collaboration, I was afraid for and protective of my vision for my first professional album. If I had had enough money in my pocket already, I would have shaken Dan’s hand, kindly thanked him (I did both), but would have confidently turned down his offer. However. There’s nothing like the sobering trials of one’s mid-twenties, of rent, and the general supporting-of-one’s-self for the first time outside the “nest”, to make more appealing an offer of financial and directional support on a project as daunting as the beginning of the rest of one’s life. Or at least that’s how I felt about this unborn album. Delusional about my potential, Maybe. But for artists, we are the only ones who can truly see the vision inside our minds, and we need to believe that it absolutely CAN come to life, or else it probably never will. So I called Dan one evening in February from my attic apartment at the top of a hill overlooking downtown Brattleboro, 250 miles from New Jersey, and we chatted about my vision, my fears, my many expectations; a sort of ping pong game in which I tossed over my ball of trepidation coated in hope, he returned it with confidence, excitement, and easiness that only someone who has been through more than you can possess. I still remember something he said to me in our conversation, which would take the edge off of the intensity of my emotions toward recording: “life is hard, music is easy”. After our conversation, I realized I would have a lot to learn from working with Dan, and about making music in general. It would be hard for me to put down my stubborn, Lone Cowgirl act, but this challenge was one I would need and am grateful found me on that sidewalk in December in Asbury Park.
LIFE IS HARD, MUSIC IS EASY
I continued to live (in a total of four different residences within one and a half years) and work in Brattleboro, as a Mental Health Worker at a local psychiatric hospital. I’m not sure which was more challenging: trying to keep afloat a vision/ keep active my work on an album which would not come for months, but involved correspondence and trips back home for pre-production, or, working on a daily basis with adolescents who were going through some of the hardest times of their young and nearly-lost lives. I myself feel I narrowly escaped the inner emotional turmoil of my adolescence (and let’s be real - my twenties, thus far), and here I was as a newly independent young adult, faced with helping those who I feel I had myself just surpassed on the track, still in the same race, just with a little more time and experience. I am grateful for that role which thrust me daily into a space of selfless interaction and perspective, which, when I began to take the work of the album too seriously, I remembered that life is short and can nearly be lost...and life is hard, but music is easy.
...But I'm From Jersey...
Dan and I would spend time using his home recording equipment to track songs I wanted to include in the album. I had a pre-compiled list of songs ready to go. I had an album title. I had a goal for an album release show. I knew what I was doing. Until one day I was aimlessly playing some older songs I had written, which one might consider the sounds of Country or Americana. Dan immediately noticed an ease and depth of emotion with which I played those songs, and declared “we need to record those.” I put up a small fight, insisting I am not a country musician, and have no business putting out an album with imposter country tunes. I’m from New Jersey. He insisted. I reworked my list of songs, and scrapped the title. Thus began to take the shape of what is now The Gleaner, a nine-track album of songs, some of which I never thought I would see the light of day.
Studio time was booked for August 18th, 2016, at Lakehouse Recording Studios in Asbury Park, NJ, and Dan reached out to some friends and local, sought-after musicians to secure for the days of recording. Those musicians would include a friend of mine, bassist Zach Westfall, and some new friends: guitarist Stephen Maxwell, drummer Eric Novod, and organ player, Mark Maesfield. Erik kase Romero would engineer and mix the album, and Tim Pannella would master the tracks. One full day of live-tracking together with a serendipitous amount of compatibility and ease, and a couple of other days for Mark and myself for harmonies one month later, and the bulk of the work was done; months of anticipation and hard work culminating in the birth of an overdue album, now waiting to be shared.
To me, this was the fun work; the exciting work. Now began the uncharted territory of self-promotion. The words you’re reading now in an effort to bridge the gap between you and my music, which only the walls of my room and a select few had known for the first 5 years of my songwriting, are coming 11 years after picking up a guitar to write my first song. Good things take time. I feel that this album is a good thing, made with good people, and will hopefully create a good experience in your life when it reaches your ears and mind.
These nine songs span at least six years of songwriting, reflecting on romance, my love of the moon, the themes of home (loss of it/ questioning of its definition), my identity, loss/questioning of religiosity, and a song inspired by a small gravestone in an old New England grave yard across from my first VT apartment. These songs are literally my life, and I hope you can relate to some of these words, from one human’s experience to another.
Thank you for taking the time to support the thing that I have held dearest to my individual human experience thus far. As I go forward, it only becomes more and more evident that music is even better when shared.
Please follow me here and through instagram (@taradente) and facebook (@taradentemusic) to stay informed of upcoming shows and events. feel free to reach me directly at email@example.com.
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