I must’ve missed the bandwagon when L.A. based rock band Dorothy debuted in 2016 with their first album, ROCKISDEAD. I’m surprised I wasn’t there the first time around, considering she’s signed to Jay-Z’s ROC Nation. Luckily, I’m here for their sophomore album, “28 Days in the Valley.” Better late than never, right?
From what I’ve heard, the band’s lead, Dorothy Martin, has a reputation of being a solid lead, and I’m pumped to hear some powerhouse-rock vocals. I’m not sure what to expect; full or fuzzy guitar? Complex lyrics? Meaningful songs? Mediocrity?
Again, I’ve never listened to Dorothy, so I’m jumping into this feet-first, and with no prior knowledge of their catalogue, I have nothing to compare it to. That being said, I think it makes this one-listen review more electrifying, diving into the dark.
The rules are simple for a one-listen review: listen fully, beginning to end, no skipping around, and no pausing. I’m writing what I hear, as I hear it. Feel free to listen along! See if your opinions align with mine—I’m just one guy.
Stream the full album here.
Hm, “Flawless.” Is this a metaphor for the entirety of the album? Wow, right off the bat, I’m digging the acoustic and electric guitar duo. Waiting, waiting, there: the voice we’ve been waiting for. I’m getting flashbacks of middle school, from the first time I heard Hayley Williams sing “Misery Business.” Is this going to be like the old Paramore? I hope so.
“You said you love me but you threw me out in the garbage/ Now I’m starting to stink, but everyone thinks I’m flawless.” This is a visual and powerful first line.
The chorus is making me head-bang and her vocals are soaring. Is this foreshadowing the rest of what I’m to hear?
Mmmm, guitar solo. It has a crunchy, angry sound, but only lasted a few seconds. We’ll likely get more in tracks to follow, but it should’ve been longer in the opening track to punch us in the face with the rock-n-roll we want. The next chorus is making up for it—there’s a guitar solo pairing with her vocals; a strikingly good balance. A solid opener — I hope the rest gets even better.
“Now I’m starting to stink, but everyone thinks I’m flawless.”
2. Who Do You Love
Major Black Keys sound from the get-go. The high-intensity drums with a snare-hit on every beat, paired with a catchy, simple guitar riff makes it feel like this album is going to be a hybrid between modern alternative and 70’s arena rock.
Oh, tambourine. I can’t really understand what she’s saying, but her voice is flooring. I wouldn’t be surprised if this song is a stand-out on the album. This sounds like something to play in the car while driving by the beach and smoking your first cigarette without mom knowing.
Now we’re into a hazy, half-time groove, like a Hendrix song. Dorothy’s vocals have me in a trance, soft and smooth—wait, we’re back to full-speed, head-banging in double-time.
“Who do you love when your love runs dry?”
Her last vocal run is, wow. Yeah, wouldn’t be surprised if this is one of my favorites.
3. Pretty When You’re High
This is definitely different. It seems like a ballad, maybe the sappy song on the album? As the title indicates, this seems like a relapse of memories from a drug-induced love story.
“Pretty when you’re high, boy/ layin’ in the sand gettin’ dirty/ soakin’ up the sun and feelin’ fine.”
Just like the first track, the guitar is echoing the chorus in my left ear, and is now moving on to a full-on guitar solo, but, it’s eh. Very eh. It doesn’t fit at all.
Now we’re into the bridge, slowing down quite a bit—that was really short. I didn’t like this one too much. It felt like the song didn’t know what it was supposed to be.
I like the vocals at the start of this… Dorothy backed up by many voices. A real arena vibe. It’s clear, not muddy at all, and I can get a feel for her voice with only a simple electric guitar riff behind it. Her lower range is warm and cozy—I’d like to hear more of that. I get that the higher range is where the power is, especially for a lead in a high-energy rock band, but hopefully, we’ll get more of this vibe in the songs to come.
This might be the sing-along song off the album, with the chorus repeating many times, in a way that’s clear, simple, repetitive, and most importantly, catchy.
“Hey now now, we’re sleeping under a mountain.”
At the end, the backing voices provide the backbone of the chorus, allowing Dorothy to really play with her range and improvise over the chords.
I haven’t mentioned it before but there is no end to a song, as each plays into the next track, and it’s impressive.
The drums are really funky at the beginning of this one, with crunchy guitar notes being played that feels like a spell.
The verse is just okay, but whoa, I’m really into this chorus. The lead guitar just played a counter-melody that sounded like it was off a funk album—I need more of that. It’s one of those guitar lines that makes you scrunch up your nose because it’s so disgustingly good. The guitar is light—a daze throughout the verses. when you hit the chorus, though, the song transforms into a hybrid of funk and alternative rock.
“Take me up to the Northside, let me sleep under the pines, where the stars lie upon my face, and the Redwoods whisper lies.”
Woah. Again, the guitar. It creates the illusion that makes the song sound like it’s in 5/4, but it’s just the hesitation at the end of each bar that the lead executes brilliantly.
This song gets everything right. It mixes genres, hits you hard with guitar solos and powerhouse vocals, and overall just takes you on a ride of solid musicality. I’ll definitely be listening again.
6. White Butterfly
Just the title makes me think this is going to be a slow(er) track. It starts off dream-like, with cymbals tinging and the guitars playing lightly.
Okay… not what I was expecting.
The drummer wailed on the snare drum, leading me into a heavy rock song. Wow, this song sounds exactly like Pearl Jam. Her lower-range sounds like Eddie Vedder’s higher-range—I think I need to listen to some 90’s grunge after this.
And we’re back to the dream-like state, but this time there’s a keyboard that’s reminiscent of Styx. This band is really mixing all sorts of genres from all time periods, something that’s not common nowadays. Dorothy is singing overtop of the keyboard, and damn, it’s good. I had no idea her voice was so silky—you wouldn’t know unless you listened to this track.
“Wipe the tears from my eyes / Take me home, white butterfly.”
Guys, now I’m craving a ballad that’s just her voice accompanied by an acoustic guitar. Fingers crossed.
7. 28 Days in the Valley (Interlude)
Ah, yes, the title-track.
Oh, oh, acoustic guitar. Is this going to be the track I was hoping for?
There’s light electric guitar, providing welcomed accompaniment. Goosebumps. Dorothy’s using her lower-range, and the chord progression is dark and moves forward well.
“I’m young and I’m free… 28 days in the valley.”
This song is short, running at just over two minutes, but it’s leaving me hungry for more. It makes sense, considering it’s the interlude, but I think if they made more tracks like this, they could draw an even larger fan base. Please, do yourself a favor, and listen to this track.
8. On My Knees
Wow, ear trauma right away. I don’t even know what that sound was.
Okay, now we’re into aggressive, hard rock. This song sounds like an anthem of-sorts—a really sexual anthem.
That’s really all this is—hard, fast, sexual rock music. To be fair, it’s not bad musically, but lyrically—it’s rough.
“I see you baby, shaking my ass, shaking my ass.”
Yeah, not good.
9. Black Tar & Nicotine
I really hope this isn’t an angsty, teenage song about smoking and hating your parents. It doesn’t seem to be—it’s a song about the struggles of alcoholism and/or drug addiction.
The guitars are staying consistent throughout the album, but this song really puts the emphasis on Dorothy’s lyrics.
“But black tar and nicotine, shot me in the heart and killed my dreams.”
It becomes more obvious she struggled with heroin as the song continues. It reminds me of Amy Winehouse. Not the voice — the struggle. While rock music comes across as sounding powerful or tough most times, the lyrics in this song explore Dorothy’s vulnerable side. The rock-sound creates a false barrier over what’s really going on with Dorothy, throwing in the element of empathy to the album.
All right guys, how many times can I say that one of these songs starts with a simple drum beat and a hazy guitar? If I’m being honest, it’s getting a little old.
Oh, but wait. Her voice is different in this track. It sounds similar to Cage the Elephant. Her high-range is reminding me of Matt Shultz’s. Throughout the album, it’s impressive how many musical styles she can switch between, and their sophomore album seems to be a display of her array of sounds.
“Love me in the night, hate me when you go.”
My biggest complaint about this track is the clear conflict between the guitar and vocals. The vocals are airy and light, which the guitar is fighting against, seemingly annoyed with the laid-back mood. This is evident from the start but I can hear it even more in the guitar solo. It sounds like that solo in “Killing in the Name” by Rage Against the Machine, where the guitar is so high on the fretboard that it sounds electronic and makes no sense.
I don’t know, maybe it was on purpose.
11. Ain’t Our Time to Die
I like when a song doesn’t screw around and hops into that catchy guitar riff we all want, and that’s what this one does well. There’s some funky guitar on the verse of this song and the chorus is really catchy—somewhat repetitive, but catchy.
This song sounds like an anthem for the youth, rising up and making a difference—or, whatever the youth want to do. At least, that’s what I got from the lyrics.
“You’ve got to believe it baby, it ain’t our time to die.”
It doesn’t stand out, but at least it doesn’t contradict itself.
12. We Are Staars
Yes, that’s right. It’s spelt “staars.”
Another high-energy, exciting song that you might play on full volume if you need to hype yourself up. The guitar in this song is quick, in front of the beat, and remarkably catchy.
Vocally, it’s just okay. This isn’t Dorothy’s shining moment on the track but it does prove what her band is capable of. Every time the chorus is played, Dorothy sings “We are Stars!” with a crash cymbal on the word “stars.” This emphasis on the chorus makes this one a head-banger, for sure. From start to finish, it’s fast and upbeat.
“We are stars, S-T-A-A-R, that’s who we are.”
I can imagine this might be the closer when Dorothy goes on tour, leaving the audience on an adrenaline pumping music high when the show’s over.
13. We Need Love
Come on, come on, please close out the album right.
Okay, it’s starting off solid. The dynamic between guitars is excellent, with one being more driven, like an 80’s metal song, while the other carries the melody with more of a southern rock sound.
I love the chorus of this song and it ends the album well. Throughout 28 Days in the Valley, we’ve learned about struggle and addiction, heard lows and highs, and I appreciate how the ending note is about love, and lots of it:
“We need love, love, love, love, love.”
It’s slowing, I can feel the album ending, and we get more of those silky-smooth runs from Dorothy that I’ve loved throughout the album. I thought it was about to end, but we climb back up to the original speed, ending on a high note.
Overall, I’m pleasantly surprised. I didn’t know what to expect from Dorothy, but I’m glad I had the opportunity to listen to “28 Days in the Valley” in its entirety.
The musicality in this album came in waves, dipping and peaking in different songs, climaxing early in “Freedom.” Still not over that one. What a banger.
Experiencing the life and struggles of Dorothy gave this album a layer of emotion, that allowed me to grasp something deeper than just the vocals on the surface. That emotion was most apparent in “Black Tar & Nicotine” — the title makes it obvious. I’m sure there’s more grief I can process when I give the album another listen, hidden in lyrics I missed when distracted by guitar riffs and drum fills.
If you’re wondering, it’s definitely worth at least one listen. Now, I think I’m going to start my second.
Best tracks: “Who Do You Love,” “Freedom,” “28 Days in the Valley (Interlude)”
Tracks to skip: “Pretty When You’re High,” “On My Knees”