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Lisa Germano - Magic Neighbor

Magic Neighbor

Lisa Germano

Young God Records - YG39

Available from Young God Records (Mid Sept. 2009)

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

Lisa Germano is Gothprog's Tori Amos, and her latest pretty much puts the dark icing on that cake. Where 4AD left off its neo-folksy side, she and Young God Records kinda took up, with broad swaths of Harold Budd, non-serial Michael Nyman, a depressed Penguin Cafe Orchestra, and Romanticism twisted and tweaked, then tossed everything around and marinated it grey. You knew Lisa Germano in high school. She was the nerdy girl whom no one noticed but everyone knew for her weird introverted intensity and extra-dimensional attitude. Every school had at least one, usually a few, but hardly any of 'em graduated. Germano did.

Can't tell ya who's playing what—the promo copy's not exactly lavish—but Magic Neighbor is of a stripe with the off-kilter usual expected of the chanteuse: delicately elaborate, breathy, misty, nervous, bemused, and melancholy above all else. Billowing understated synths pave the skies and winds in drear Elizabethan habiliment, string sections dancing on ruffles and soiled petticoats, Germano's world weary voice exhausted with the task of living. Cocoon 's minuet is a lush affair that ends abruptly after a chamber build-up, reflecting the attenuation of depression into…what? Well, analyzing the composer's music is never a party, ambushed and latticed with labyrinths of explication and connotation, but the finale is nonetheless apt. In other hands, it's been attempted and failed miserably; here, poetry awakes and dies Dickensily in the same heartbeat.

Don't throw this on when the family's over for an evening's diversion; you'll just grind everything to a halt and probably find yourself disinherited. Satisfy, instead, to hide in a closet, curl up into a fetal ball (with headphones, of course—this is now expected even of the Gen X progeny), and drift off into a Freudian narcosis of guilt, regret, shame, and yearning all bundled up in a soft lacy blanket of down and fleece. It's the other side of life, the Plath mandala, and still rather taboo in today's "wide open honest" society (don't get me started!). Oh, um, and someone might want to let YR's honcho Michael Gyro know that Tom Waits made an LP with Crystal Gayle, not Crystal Gail…

…and see if you can spot the irony in that sentence, dear reader.

Track List:

  • Marypan
  • To the Mighty One
  • Simple
  • Kitty Train
  • The Prince of Plati
  • A Million Times
  • Magic Neighbor
  • Suli-Mon
  • Snow
  • Painting the Doors
  • Cocoon

Edited by: David N. Pyles


Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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