Cailyn/Dani are an all female two piece made up of guitarist and multi instrumentalist, (she plays guitar, bass, keyboards, drums and does the programming on the disc) Cailyn Lloyd, along with vocalist Dani Daly, who have both made an impact on their local music scene in Wisconsin before coming together for this their debut CD.
The album is made up of four original recordings and five cover versions and if truth be told that in itself tells a story. The four original compositions are all well constructed songs that allow Lloyd to show off her considerable six string talent, it's just that they lack a little oomph and individuality. All four have a catchy blues soaked feel, but none quite have that spark that raises them above the pack. Album opener "Heartland" for instance has a nice hypnotic guitar line, however it's all a little too polite, meandering along rather than flowing with force. There is an excellent pompous keyboard break just after halfway that gives the song a real kick and feels as if Tony Clarkin of Magnum had a hand in its construction, however all too quickly it fades away without really coming to anything. Whilst none of the remaining three self penned tracks are poor in any way, they too fail to deliver that killer blow that would make you hit the repeat button.
Dani has a very listenable voice, sometimes coming over like a less husky Bonnie Tyler, sometimes more dramatic in a Stevie Nicks inspired way and interestingly her phrasings are often reminiscent of a female Phil Mogg of UFO. If I was to be harsh my complaint would be that she could add more "colour" to her performance, it never sounds like we ever get the full force of her considerable vocal chords, nor do we get the subtlety that is sometimes hinted at that would help add more drama to the songs, when in track two she sings the title line "This lady kicks Ax", nobody seems less convinced than Dani herself.
The five cover versions take in Kansas, Hendrix, Blind Faith, Aerosmith and Emerson Lake and Palmer. Of the five it's the oft covered Steve Winwood classic "Can't Find My Way Home" that fares best, Daly puts in her most charismatic performance on the whole album and along with the emotion laden guitars it's a triumph and definitely the strongest track on show. Aerosmith's "Dream On" also comes over well, at times it's a little too lacklustre, however the stripped back sections are quite beautiful and rival the original version for passion.
Unfortunately the other three covers, "Portrait" by Kansas, "Still... You Turn Me On" from ELP and especially Hendrix's "Wind Cries Mary", slip by without making too much of a mark on the memory. All three suffer from being just too laid back and one dimensional.
While the two ladies involved with the disc did set out to make a "feminine" sounding album, I can't help but feel that a little more grit would have improved things by some margin. Don't get me wrong though, there is in fact very little wrong with any of the songs on True Lies and Other Fairy Tales, it's just that the words that kept springing to mind were polite, tame and pleasant and how often do you browse your music collection looking for pleasant albums?
2. Still... You Turn Me On
3. Lady Kicks Ax
5. Heading West
6. Dream On
7. Wind Cries Mary
8. Can't Find My Way
9. Road Not Taken