Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Mynabirds Sing Songs for the Summer

With all of the many releases this summer, I didn't see this one coming or know it would get so much of my attention, but as it turns out, The Mynabirds have given us a wonderful album for mid-and late-summer. I ran into this album, What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood , thanks to All Songs Considered who had Laura Burhenn and her band in for a Tiny Desk Concert. I wasn't sure that the album would turn out to be a keeper (it is), but I could tell instantly that I really liked Burhenn's voice and style.

The album, which you might guess just from the title (or the cover), is rooted in gospel and blues, but in that wonderful way that bleeds into country, R&B, Motown and even a little rock and roll. Now don't think it is all heavy--this is a pop album at its heart with Burhenn holding the various styles together with both her writing and her sultry alto voice which is a wonderfully muscular at times and gentle in other spots. As Pop Matters notes:
Binding together the disparate influences of slow-burning, hot-piping soul; swaying, sassy girl group pop; a gospel-tinged hymnal quality that lends her husky, smoke-burnished voice a ringing, striking command; and the sputtering, exhilarating abandon of garage rock, Burhenn creates a stylistically divergent yet singularly inspired sound that’s at once charmingly reverent and spiritedly self-supportive.
And let's say just a bit more about her voice. Neats and I sat around trying to figure out who she sounds like. This is difficult because she sounds like a lot of people on different songs. Ultimately we couldn't decide on any one singer, which seemed like a compliment in and of itself. But then I read the Pitchfork review and was pleased to read they had a list of comparisons as well.
The material recalls artists such as Dusty Springfield, Laura Nyro, and Linda Rondstadt, but the sound and style come closer to more recent touchstones-- Jenny Lewis' best moments on her own and with Rilo Kiley; Cat Power circa The Greatest and Jukebox; Fiona Apple's collaborations with Jon Brion.
And just to add one last quality that makes this a wonderful summer album is that it comes in at barely over a half an hour long--because really we don't want to get to serious now do we? But if this genre and female vocals are your thing, you should pick this one up as it is definitely worth a listen.

I intended to give you a couple samples to give you a taste, but alas had some probs with the mp3 rip and find myself here writing this post with only one song on my computer and with the actual disc in another state with my family (lucky them). So you are just going to have to do with just one which is a nice R&B piece and still gives you a sense of the album. I had hoped to follow that with the closing track "Good Heart" which is all country (and has the beauty of leading you back to the title track on the disc-replay-rollover). But do check this one out.


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