BioDawn Smithson played bass and sang in Jessamine; a band that released three albums on kranky, singles on several other labels and contributed a track to the epic Music of the Spheres compilation on the Drunken Fish label. Dawn left Jessamine to pursue a career in fashion design. She did have plans to put out an acoustic-based solo album then, but by the time she moved from Portland to Seattle and found herself immersed in school, there was no time for music.
After school came the stressful jobs with long hours. Dawn Smithson started playing again after she moved into a little house by herself. She found that she needed to be alone to work on music again. So Dawn started to play guitar again—something she had barely touched since Jessamine broke up. Dawn Smithson describes the time alone as "the best thing that has ever happened to me. I have realized that I am a guitarist and singer/songwriter first and foremost. I love bass, but it never gave me the satisfaction I get from doing it all. I have never experienced so much freedom in music. I think all this freedom was very instrumental in the creation of these songs."
Since reentering the music world, Dawn Smithson has recently contributed on bass in live performances and recordings with SUNN O))) (White 2, The Libations of Samhain) and on vocals in Ginnungagap (100% Downer).
Beginning in 2004 Dawn Smithson began making demo recordings at home. When the first CD-R of her songs arrived at kranky we knew she was on to something special. Dawn's voice, which had always been the center point in the swirl of electronics, guitars and rhythm in Jessamine, came to the fore in her stark, angular songs. With a few careful additions of guitars, accordion and keyboards songs became fully fleshed out. Dawn Smithson describes her musical influences as Nick Drake, Late period Talk Talk, Bjork and Mid-period Pink Floyd, but there is something defiantly personal in the songs on Safer Here.
As Smithson describes it, "I have been the most extreme hermit I could possibly be during the year plus it took me to make the record, having neither the time nor the desire for most human company."
Through careful placement of a stereo pair of Neumann mic's and a large diaphragm Rode, the recording quality reflects the emotional intent of the music, creating the feeling that you're there in the room. Smithson used a computer for arrangement and has added contributions from David Farrell (Southerning, Dormant), Rex Ritter (Jessamine, Fontanelle, SUNN (((O), Brian Foote (Nudge) and Jussi Brightmore (I¹m Being Good, 100 Pets, Samed). The album was mixed with Rex Ritter at Magnetic Park studios in Portland.
Dawn Smithson says of Safer Here that "Because this album so personal and intimate, I think it is also best listened to alone—like a melancholy movie that might deeply affect you, but that you don't want anyone to see you being affected by." The album is direct and razor-edged, perfect for solitude and headphone listening.