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The Mynabirds - Fire and Rain
on January 9, 2011
One of the great joys of stumbling across new artists particularly on some of the American music blogs is finding tasters for what turn out to be some of your favourite albums. Last years great thrill in this respect was discovering the Bowerbirds "Upper Air" an album of lovely cloud-drifting Americana, this years looks like it might be by another band with our feathered friends in their title namely The Mynabirds.
The Mynabirds are actually a vehicle for the huge talent of Laura Burhenn based out of Omaha with a album produced by singer songwriter Richard Swift who is something of a minority taste on Amazon. She records on the Conor Oberst "Saddle Creek Label" on whose site the album is streaming. Of course the band name has in the past which was associated with Neil Young's first group the Mynah Birds which is a nice link to fact that in a recent interview Burhenn has openly stated that as a point of reference that "I always wanted to make a record that sounds like Neil Young doing Motown". I'm not certain whether she has achieved that for what the listener hears on "What We Lose In The Fire We Gain In The Flood" are clear echoes drawn from singers as varied a Patsy Cline, Neko Case, Jenny Lewis, Dusty Springfield and even the Velvet Underground (the excellent "Ways of Looking")
Her voice does have somewhat of a chameleon like quality and her song writing is so assured you feel that some of them could be established standards not new works. Check out for example the gentle chiming break up love song "Right Place" where you can feel the hurt in her voice The opener "What we gained in the fire" is a slow piano ballad with a soulful vocal by Burhenn that is destined I suspect to be covered by many other artists and her vocal hits the mark. The single "Numbers dont lie" is a real highlight and drifts in with a slightly Spectorish feel and a vocal which recalls that big voice that Linda Ronstadt brings to her songs. "Let the record go" is one of the most up-tempo on the album and this time its Chan Marshall circa "The Greatest" who haunts the song. When you hear one of this albums true highlights the anthemic "We made a mountain" you could happily imagine Janis Joplin belting this out in a mildly inebriated fashion as it is one of those classic "hurt" ballads that confirms the decision of the great Rev Al Green to get Ms Burhenn to open some of his recent concerts in the States. There is plenty of other great songs on this hugely confident album especially the thumping "Wash it out". Throughout in the mix of Burhenn's soaring voice and heartfelt songs she hardly puts a foot wrong and as a result she is destined to be Pop Chanteuse who will stand out from the crowd.