A heady and quirky mix of Regina Spektor, Leslie Feist, and Joni Mitchell, the second album from Nataly Dawn, the female half of heady and quirky indie pop duo Pomplamoose, is held together by the French- and Belgium-raised, Stanford-educated, American singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist's gift for gab, unique phrasing, and sophisticated musicality. Largely acoustic yet peppered with swampy slide guitar, brooding strings, and gospel-tinged organ, Dawn plays fast and loose with genres while maintaining a foundation that owes as much to jazz and blues as it does to folk traditions. Less reliant on the indie pop architecture of Pomplamoose, there is a tantalizing and soulful undercurrent that runs through How I Knew Her, which owes more than a cursory nod to its multi-talented backing players, who provide album highlights like the seductive, sing-songy "Araceli," the expansive and truly mesmerizing title cut, and the ghostly "Long Running Joke," with the kind of tasteful yet confident propulsion that can only come from well-seasoned session musicians, who in this case include Ryan Lerman (Ben Folds), David Piltch (Bill Frisell), Louis Cole (Pomplamoose), and Matt Chamberlain (Fiona Apple). That said, this is Dawn's show, and when she turns the volume down and allows the spotlight to linger on just her, as she does on the Jacques Brel-esque "Back to the Barracks," the lovely, string-laden "Why Did You Marry," and the intimate closer "I Just Wanted You to Get Old," it's easy to see why the Kickstarter fund that proved so invaluable to the record's creation received five times more than it asked for.
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AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger