Composer and singer Donna (née Parker) Allen is prolific, and fast. Music pours out of her, and vinyl is unequal to capturing the flow. Accordingly, ever/never is honored to present Donna’s first song diary as a limited-edition cassette.
We first encountered Donna’s work through Chronophage, one of the defining guitar bands of the past decade and a rare bulwark of political radicalism and artistic independence in the U.S. underground. As singer and songwriter for that band, Donna favors an accomplished fingerstyle technique on guitar, unpredictable changes, and a winding melodicism with few parallels in contemporary rock music. The ’Phage suggests a great, lost band of the high SST era, restless and open and committed to its personal vision.
Since moving to New York in 2021, Donna has linked arms with the city’s anarcho-punk scene, written about avant-garde and dissident art of the late 20th century, and produced reams of solo piano music. Her song diary is a return to the intense, personal songwriting she practices with her main band. True to its title, it reminds us of the intimacy and spontaneity of an earlier home-recording era, when the cassette was an easy and immediate way of sharing ideas with kindred spirits.
One is a blend of spare solo pieces for guitars, keyboards, and vocals and fully arranged band pieces. At times, its instrumental sections recall Neil Young and Richard Thompson, Lou Barlow and the Harrisburg Players. At others, these tracks hint at Donna’s love of ‘80s UK pop, which her upcoming 12” EP for ever/never will bear out. But that’s almost beside the point: the heart of these recordings is in Donna’s lyrics, her voice, her intimations on transitioning, friendship, and solidarity. “Nothing Can Stop Us Now” is so beautiful it hurts; the title tells you everything you need to know about this artist, her politics, and her craft as she stands at the cusp of a personal revolution.