Reviewed by Palo Garcia
I’ve always liked thinking about first albums. I spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about the songs I’ve loved, ones that cut right through me, ones that helped me create memories of a certain place and time in my life. There’s something so earnest, raw, and electric about a first album, and often, it’s the only thing I need to lovingly preserve an artist in the amber of my mind.
Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid, at its core, is about a first album—a collection of songs so legendary because it was the only one from a band brought together by events both auspicious and difficult.
Daisy Jones is one of those characters that occupy the space between blessed and tragic: born to famous parents, ethereally beautiful, a natural singer with a voice that’s more earthy than sweet, and seem to be propelled by the desire to be appreciated for her talents. Leading The Six is Billy Dunne, a salt-of-the-earth kind of musician who’s gone through the sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll routine and emerged with his impulses straining under a brooding surface.
There’s an intense chemistry between these two: sparks fly, little things get under the skin, and the more they want to do nothing with each other, they more the feelings of attraction intensify. And the music they created together reflected this—though only described on paper, Jenkins Reid makes sure you can almost hear the licks, softened keys, Daisy’s raspy crooning, and Billy’s earnestness as you turn the pages.
But as with most brilliant, groundbreaking artistic partnerships, things can get messy when the individuals involved put so much of themselves on the line. Daisy—like many of the ethereal, intensely beautiful and talented women in fiction before her—finds her life spinning out of control as she falls in love with Billy, deeper with the dope, and into a whirlwind romance and marriage with an Italian prince. Billy’s iron-hold on his impulses—once fortified by the commitment he made to his wife Camila and their children—is threatening to loosen as he gets to know Daisy more.
Constructed as a transcript of interviews with the band and the people surrounding them compiled by an invisible author (whose identity is a thoughtful little twist toward the end; a twist that unfolds a tiny detail that is more heartbreaking to me), this novel will take you through the whirlwind of events surrounding the band’s first and only album and the carnage of emotions it leaves in its wake.
There are also lyrics to the band’s songs included in the end to give readers the big picture that the recounted events built—but I think Jenkins Reid’s writing is more powerful when she gave Daisy, Billy, Camila, and the band their unique voices. And of all the colorful characters who “spoke” in the novel, I wanted more of Karen Sirko (keyboardist) and Graham Dunne (Billy’s brother, guitarist)—whose stories transform beautifully between the lines.
After reading this novel, I went back to thinking long and hard about my favorite first albums, and if the one that Jenkins Reid wrote about in this novel actually exists, it’s going to be on the top of my list.
Daisy Jones & The Six is available at Fully Booked branches. Email us to reserve a copy.
Palo Garcia is a writer by trade and a book hoarder at heart. She hopes to one day conquer the behemoth that is her to-be-read pile. She sometimes talks about books and films on social media (@palollibee on Twitter and Instagram).
[Thoughts and views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Fully Booked. Then again, we love our authors anyway.]