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Singer finds her writing voice

Posted by Scott McLennan  April 24, 2013 09:06 AM

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Thumbnail image for Juliet Simmons Dinallo Hi Res by Douglas Christian.jpg
Singer Juliet Simmons Dinallo co-wrote all but one of the songs on her debut "No Regrets" (Doug Christian photo)

Juliet Simmons Dinallo is not a rookie. She studied at Berklee College of Music and sang in its gospel choir before pursuing her craft, first with an emphasis on rock and then with a shift into roots music.

"I guess around 2000 I started listening to Emmylou Harris and John Hiatt, and I just said, 'Whoa,' and that took me in a whole other direction," she says. "I have a rock background. I love Rush and Led Zeppelin. But then I fell in love with the twang stuff."

Dinallo's next discovery came around 2004 when she found Patty Griffin's music. "I started listening to her writing, and that just took me in a whole different direction," Dinallo says.

"No Regrets" is where it has all led. "No Regrets" is the debut CD by Dinallo's band Juliet and the Lonesome Romeos. Tree O Records released the album earlier this year, and the band has a hometown gig Thursday, April 25, at Club Passim, 47 Palmer St., Cambridge. Show time is 8 p.m.

Saying she likes the give-and-take of working with a writing partner, Dinallo started writing with guitarist Michael Gray. Their first collaboration yielded the album's title track, a loping rocker about making the tough decision to split. Dinallo's voice soars and sinks along the song's emotional waves.

Dinallo and Gray produced seven songs that ended up on the record. She then penned the ballad "Winter Night" with her husband Mike Dinallo (who also produced the disc with his "Tremolo Twins" partner Ducky Carlile). Mrs. Dinallo wrote the wistful "Wishing Well," while Mr. Dinallo (you do remember the Radio Kings, right?) penned the hangdog "Faded Highway."

The stories Dinallo tells on her album range from the personal, such as "Last Kiss" which is about a friend killed in a car crash, to the topical; "September Day" is drawn from the devastation Hurricane Katrina brought to New Orleans.

"I definitely need to be writing about things. I'm not going to just make up stories. The writing is more like therapy for me," she says.

Playing a blend of country and primal rock 'n' roll, she says, helps maintain a focus that keeps the songs uncluttered. And she found pretty good range within the style.

"I like to shift gears as a singer," she says. "When we were making the record, a lot of the people working on it were asking me, 'Are you sure you want three waltzes on the record?'"

Dinallo says she simply trusted her instincts to achieve a record with decent flow. And so far, so good. Juliet and the Lonesome Romeos had a good run through Nashville in February and will return, adding shows in Memphis as well.

Dinallo says it has been "meaningful" to find acceptance in places where there are no shortages of musicians playing music similar to hers.

But with or without that validation, Dinallo would be doing this anyway.

"This is really my first stab at writing," she says. "It made me realize that this is what I should be doing."

Here's the title track to "No Regrets"
Juliet Simmons Dinallo Hi Contrast Hi Res by Douglas Christian.jpg

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About the author

Scott McLennan is a Boston Globe music correspondent and previously wrote a music and entertainment column for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette for 15 years. After seeing the band Boston in the Boston Garden as a teenager he never looked back and eventually figured out how to be a professional fan. Scott is very good at writing in the dark. This blog is an ongoing discussion about music happening in and around Boston. Scott will be leading the trek across genres looking for new releases and hot shows as well as just checking in with the people who make Boston such a great place to listen. More »
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