March 7, 2002

Test Spin: Dakota Moon

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If Alicia Keys’ fine keyboard skills have reminded music listeners that R&B needn’t be limited to sweaty lyrics and mindless bumpin’ and grindin’, the all-male quartet Dakota Moon continues the trend with a rocking and soulful slab of sound called A Place to Land. The title track opens with slick guitar licks that work up to a soaring pop chorus, giving way to the slinky Santana-like riffs of “Keeps Me Comin’ (Addiction).” Dakota Moon alternates shredding guitars with whispery acoustic twinkling, and on tracks such as “Release Me,” swelling violins complement the honest, heartfelt vocals of all four members.

None of this is to say that Dakota is uncharted territory. Part of the problem with an insanely catchy song like “Lonely Days” is that it’s been done before. The influence of artists like Jeff Buckley and Billy Ocean stand out at specific moments, rather than being blended into a distinctive new sound. Still, there’s no need to be adventurous when you’re capable of a solid Sunday afternoon toe-tapper like A Place to Land.

Archived article by Dan Schiff