Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Patrick Stolley
Romantically speaking, Adrianne Verhoeven couldn't do any more than she already does. There is a special tint to everything that Dri does on her debut album Smoke Rings and on the song "Inspiration," which shall be a major focus of this essay, that calms and woos. It is with her distinct pleasure that she finds mood lighting so stimulating and the dimmer switch so inviting even after what sound to be major heartbreaks and confusing distillations of once boiling hot emotions. The bane of love, she might argue, is that it always comes back thicker, like a patch of crabgrass and thistles - but even those thistles often have a flower on their tops, giving mixed signals. Love is Lucy with the football and Dri represents all of us who play Charlie Brown, willing to race in for the punt, confident that times have changed, all until that swipe of the foot is taken and we land on the ground with a resounding thud and a hysterical laugh coming from behind us.
Oh, these loves have been hard to deal with, but are still so tempting in that they can sell that they've been rehabilitated and that they'll be better this time around - new or not. Dri is the former keyboardist for the resting in peace band The Anniversary, which was a part of the Lawrence, Kansas fleet of bands that surfaced in the Get Up Kids era - along with Ultimate Fakebook, Reggie and the Full Effect and others. She is stronger here, on her own two feet, giving her soulful voice top billing and writing songs that might surprise you by either nuzzling up into your neck with their noses or asking if you'd like a refill on that hot tea.
"Inspiration," just in what you hear, is the shape of two hands cupping a coffee mug, with the fingers touching through the little handle. It is a Sam Cooke or Aretha Franklin or Percy Sledge type of love song, though with the distinction of having some particular conflictions that make it such personal testimony. It is a pure look at a relationship teetering precariously between that stage of no return and no problems, when love is acting in Morse code, when it's performing and opera for the tone deaf, when it makes only a stitch of sense. It is an either/or situation that is still being treated as a bubble that may never pop if it's allowed to just go on floating. It and Dri are about recognizing when the rapids are about to start getting choppy and bad for the boat, but still sticking in it for the final voyage, until the water starts coming over the sides and attempting the grand sinking.
There are no crumbs of bread fitting enough to leave behind that will allow anyone to retrace their steps in these perilous cases. They'd just take on too much water and sink to the bottom of the ocean like lead anchors or get swallowed up by the nosy fish. While this may all be, "Inspiration" - as Dri defines it - feels like a plea and also a temptation, an offer. It feels like Babyface and En Vogue together for the first time. It has an intoxicating subtleness to it that is all seduction, like the curtains being slowly closed up to the outside world, the doors slowly locked and all of the lights lowered so that the focus can be on the bodies in the room. It's an exploration of where hands and hearts usually wander, where the results are varied.
Dri's MySpace Page
Range Life Records