Written by John Murph from National Public Radio
Singing about one’s imminent death requires a certain level of delicacy, because it’s way too easy to dive into melodramatic gloom. But Sonnymoon’s “Just Before Dawn” — in which Anna Wise’s ethereal vocals float across Dane Orr’s palpitating soundscape as she contemplates mortality — takes on a more hopeful, universal tone. “Every night, you should have someone to hold,” Wise sings, “to tell you that you did okay when your mind is against you.”
After a moment of silence midway through the song, the sparse ambience blossoms into a beautiful, electronically enhanced string arrangement. Along the way, it’s marked by sustained Middle Eastern-flavored harmonies and a haunting melody, courtesy of Miguel Atwood-Ferguson and harpist Rebekah Raff, who give the song a sense of glowing perpetuation. Who needs grim finality?