Dead Gowns. Photo by Wesleigh Sterrs and Jeff Griecci

Portland-based Dead Gowns has released a riveting four-song EP called “How,” and you can see the band perform live next week.

The heart of Dead Gowns is singer, guitarist, keys player and lyricist Geneviève Beaudoin. There’s a quality to her voice that is delicate and reminds me, in such a good way, of Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval. But that’s just one facet. There’s also a strength to it that’s like a kerosene coated arrow, ignited and shot into a night sky with a cross bow.

I’ve seen Dead Gowns live, and Beaudoin’s voice loses none of its efficacy in person. It’s mesmerizing, and I’ve been a fan since the debut EP “New Spine” was released in 2018.

Do you ever get the feeling when you hear a certain singer or band that they’re destined for, if you’ll pardon the cliche, greatness? Dead Gowns is one of those bands. I would not be one bit surprised to hear they’re playing at Newport Folk Festival or Boston Calling or any number of other festivals.

Which is not to say they’re not making their mark now. They just played shows in Texas and Louisiana and have ones coming up in Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.

Beaudoin collaborates mainly with guitarist and producer Luke Kalloch. The rest of the band is drummer Peter McLaughlin and bass player Alex Millan. Guest pedal steel player Hamilton Belk is also on “How,” as is Brett DesChenes who plays the flugelhorn on one of the tracks and Aisha Burns who lends her backing vocals on another.


Beaudoin started taking voice and piano lessons from her grandmother when she was about 5 years old. Her family always encouraged her to write songs. “My first memories are figuring out melody and lyrics on the piano and my grandmother helping to transcribe it on paper.”

Beaudoin said that her recent influences came in the form of two albums: Big Thief’s “Masterpiece”(2016) and Haley Heynderickx’s “I Need to Start a Garden” (2018). The music of Dead Gowns stands tall among these releases, finespun while also lush.

“How” EP cover by Dead Gowns. Photo by Hilary Eyestone

“Renter Not a Buyer,” which opens “How,” is the most muscular of the album’s tunes. “I’m a renter not a buyer/Dress me up like someone’s daughter/Put me on my side, call it a brick, call it a wife, call it anything you want on the ceiling, I was air,” sings Beaudoin brightly against a wash of guitar and Wurlitzer keys.

Synths and piano sail slowly across “How You Act” as Beaudoin sings bitter words with her enchanting voice. “Yeah it’s messy, grow up your heart/Do you think you did right from the start?” she asks. This is the song with Brett DesChenes’s sublimely placed flugelhorn. The track picks up some momentum as it flutters along before landing quietly.

“Change Your Mind” sinks deeper into the abyss, one that’s a sanctuary rather than a scary place. Millan’s double bass and the backing vocals, along with violin from Burns, make for a soothing yet emotionally complex song as Beaudoin navigates, first, an apology, then what sounds like the complicated demise of a relationship. “So you can have it/I lost my steam in the end/This wasn’t my dream.”

“How” comes to a close with “Real Life.” Piano gives way to drums, and the Mazzy Star vibes are strong with this one. I just want to sink into this song, be held by it. Acoustic and electric guitar and the ever-present drums support Beaudoin’s reclamation. “Watch me leave the table cold/ Leaving with my hat and coat/Stop to do one final dish and leave before it’s finished/ I’ve got a real life now.”

Purchase the EP digitally or on CD or cassette at You can also stream it everywhere.

Dead Gowns with The Huntress and Holder Of Hands and Louisa Stancioff
8 p.m. Nov. 11. Space, 538 Congress St., Portland, $12 in advance, $15 day of show.

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