Album Review: Bone Music by The Last Artful, Dodgr

3 min read

Ty Deery ’22

Contributing Writer

Slick R&B hooks, a distinctive vocal style, and a laid back West Coast delivery define The Last Artful, Dodgr’s catalogue in as much as she can be defined. Alana Chenevert took up the name Dodgr in 2010 as a tribute to her hometown baseball team (the LA Dodger’s), and Oliver Twist’s swaggering companion. After graduating with a degree in anthropology from Humboldt University in Northern California, Dodgr buckled down on honing her musical chops, creating an entirely unique space that the world of music didn’t know it was missing. Her dreamy production style provides a contrast to lyrics which display a keen eye for detail and storytelling.

A self-assured and relaxed articulation finds strength in the vulnerable subject matter Dodgr covers. Dodgr took up a job at the North Post Journal in Humboldt post-graduation to make ends meet, all the while perfecting her pen game. Living at The Greenhouse– a popular spot for up and coming artists–was a boon to Dodgr’s success. Being surrounded by other artists helped Dodgr diversify her catalogue. The Greenhouse being a performance venue helped Dodgr make connections with, “super low-key but big-time poppin’ indie folks,” as she puts it. Since her first performance at The Greenhouse on Nov. 11, 2011, she’s been rubbing shoulders with some of the biggest names in hip-hop.

Anderson .Paak and Mark Ronson have both collaborated with Dodgr. However, her first full length album was Bone Music, which came out in 2017 with the support of her longtime producer Neil Von Tally. The album owes its name to the Soviet era practice of bootlegging banned records using X-ray film. Dodgr’s nasally intonation and unapologetic focus on the alienation of labor in late stage capitalism is equal parts piercing and refreshing. “All you ought to do is work / Knee pad keep to the dirt / Mine all lifelong / Die young, then you die young.” Her ability to create an album that is at the same time a social commentary, as well as a study on modern relationships is an impressive feat, especially considering she compromises on neither goal. The end result is a masterful creation that is a blend of old school hip hop, new school production techniques, hypnotizing, nasally vocals, and of course–bars.

The album introduces itself to the listener with a fat sub bass on “Caverns.” The sparse musical landscape of the song is reinforced by Dodgr’s impressive harmonizing. Dodgr has a truly one of a kind voice, instantly recognizable, and inimitable. The album bids its goodbye with the track “Jazz Crimes.” A positive and hopeful ending to a body of work that spends much of its time grappling with painful subject matter. The Last Artful, Dodgr makes music that can be casually enjoyed for its dreamy, shimmering atmosphere. However, it’s more than a surface level groove. Anyone looking for a rapper who’s expanding on hip hop’s legacy as an exercise in storytelling will find in The Last Artful, Dodgr an artist capable of doing it all.

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