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Lisa McCormick - Mystery Girl

Mystery Girl

Lisa McCormick

Ruthie's Noise Productions RNP003

Available from Lisa's web site

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Lindsay Cobb

Lisa McCormick announces her intentions early on, in the title song:
Paint me a picture on the line
With candlelight and caviar and champagne wine
Paint me a sultry singer in a sequin gown
Dance me across the neon in the saxophone town

That's exactly the self-portrait McCormick paints throughout this CD. Her third full- length recording, Mystery Girl marks a bold departure from her previous folk-rock roots, exclusively exploring smokey nightclub jazz and fiery Latino rhythms. The result is her strongest and most consistent recording yet.

For this task her voice sounds stronger than ever, whether purring seductively or belting out lusty Spanish lyrics. Just the way she trills her "r's" is worth the price of admission. Supporting her is Julian McBrowne's savvy production, and a band that's tight as fishnet stockings. T-Bone Wolk on guitar and keyboards, John Isley on sax, Michael Tate on drums, and Zev Katz on bass, as well as various guest musicians-all perform with authority and verve.

Along with McCormick's focus of musical style is a focus of subject matter. Her previous recordings featured songs that dealt with a wide range of topics: contemporary angst, the quest for understanding God, the security of long-term love, and jivin' in the afterlife. On this recording, however, it's safe to say that almost all the songs are about one thing: sex. Whether with a long-term main squeeze or a one-night passing fancy is a question left for the listener. However, in McCormick's hands, and in keeping with the musical style, the lyrics employ the delightfully subtle turns of phrase that mark the best of a previous generation's Tin Pan Alley. For instance, in the song Lay Me Down she sings:
Some suspicions do come true
Some fruitions flabbergast you
Some admissions fast track you
To a point of no return

Or this, from Ninety Eight Point Six Times Two:
The factor of the body heat
Multiplied by two beneath the sheets
The heights that will be reached exceed
What all logic would conclude

As I listened, I had decided that this recording may be the best "make-out album" since the 1964 jazz/Latino collaboration between Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto. But it seems McCormick already noticed the similarity, as she sings in Fringe Behavior:

The Girl From Ipanema -
she's still walking down that street
And everyone she passes still goes 'ahhh'
Let's start right there and see
where our imaginations lead us.

Similar to k. d. lang's All You Can Eat in its sustained exploration of the joys of carnal passion, Lisa McCormick surpasses lang with her open-hearted soulfulness and fearless personal experimentation. Listen to Mystery Girl with someone you love, or at least someone you've got your eye on.

Track List
(all songs written by Lisa McCormick, except where noted)

  • Mystery Girl
  • Toda Una Vida (Osvaldo Farres)
  • Lay Me Down
  • Who Is Making Love?
  • 98.6 X 2
  • True Love
  • Fringe Behavior
  • All in Good Time
  • Odiame (Rafael Otero)
  • Fernando Esta Feliz
  • Let's Love

Edited by David N. Pyles

Copyright 2003, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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