She was a driving force behind bands like Belly, The Breeders, and Throwing Muses, bands that put Tanya Donelly on the alt-rock fast track. But she slipped off the radar a few years ago in order to have a baby and spend time with her family.
Beautysleep is her first release since her 1997 solo debut Lovesongs for Underdogs and just like that disc, this one starts impressively but loses direction along the way. The first-half of the album boasts a series of standouts, especially the gloriously melodic “The Night You Saved My Life” and the exotic “Moonbeam Monkey.” The latter song is lifted by one of the final vocal performances from the late Mark Sandman of Morphine.
But Donelly trips up midway through the set and never seems to regain her footing. Cuts like “Darkside” and “The Shadow” drone on lifelessly, setting a tone that dominates the disappointing second half. It's especially unfortunate, because Donelly is a splendid singer and a gifted, if unpredictable songwriter who's definitely been missed in recent years. Chances are that someday she'll put all the pieces together and finally record that classic album that she's got simmering somewhere inside, but she's not there yet.