wears the trousers magazine


sounding off: july 2009 (iv)
August 4, 2009, 12:31 pm
Filed under: album, review | Tags: , , , , , ,

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Miss Derringer
Winter Hill •••½
Nickel & Dime

Miss Derringer are on to a winner from the outset, because bands with names as brilliantly evocative as theirs are rare. The LA outfit’s third album, Winter Hill, is suitably crammed with stories of classy and tough-talking dames berating or lamenting the men who’ve Done Them Wrong. Vocalist Elizabeth McGrath has attracted comparisons to Debbie Harry, but more convincing echoes can be heard here of Gwen Stefani’s strut-and-sass and the Detroit Cobras’ full-throated blues and country twists.

Lyrically, the songs tackle the usual suspects of outlaw-country: heartbreak, loss, recrimination and self-possessed resolve. ‘Death By Desire’ is an outstanding track, opening with ‘60s girl-group spoken word and holding up a desolate rain-soaked streetscape as a mirror to the vocal’s pained regret, before sighing into a chorus – “bad blood / death by desire” – straight off a Southern Gothic pulp fiction cover. Bluesy vocal duelling pile-drives through ‘All The Pretty Things’, while ‘Tell Me So’ anatomises a dead relationship with plain, unflinching precision.

If the songs are occasionally simplistic and the style sometimes more derivative than homage, the skill with which these songs are accomplished, and the fun they seem to have had in doing so, make Miss Derringer more than worth a shot.

Rhian Jones
UK release date: 14/07/09; www.myspace.com/missderringer

 

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Miss Li
Dancing The Whole Way Home ••••
National

Unlike her first three albums, which were all released in quick succession, Swedish curio Miss Li (aka Linda Carlsson) has taken her time with Dancing The Whole Way Home. Or at least relatively so; it still comes less than 18 months after Songs Of A Rag Doll. It stands out, too, as being her longest album to date – the first to break the 35-minute mark, but only just. Carlsson never outstays her welcome. With reasonable domestic success extending to US network television airplay (‘Weeds’, ‘Grey’s Anatomy’), each new album from Carlsson threatens to be the one that breaks her internationally. But perhaps the cult of Miss Li is destined to stay small and humble.

Dancing The Whole Way Home is more well-rounded and less naïve than previous efforts, but still an enjoyably funky listen worthy of a singalong. Opening with the upbeat ‘I Heard Of A Girl’ and keeping the pace up throughout, with only a slight dip with ‘Is This The End’, Dancing The Whole Way Home is the embodiment of a fun, carefree summer soundtrack that her duet with Amanda Jenssen (runner-up in the 2007 season of ‘Swedish Idol’) on ‘Bourgeois Shangri-La’ perfectly sums up. A modern-day fusion of cabaret, jazz and pop fusion, the enviably prolific Carlsson delivers yet another treat for the ears.

Claire Robinson
UK release date: 31/03/09; www.myspace.com/experiencemissli

 

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Lisa Papineau
Red Trees ••••½
Enja / Yellowbird

Having worked with the likes of Tori Amos and getting a song featured on ‘The Crow: City Of Angels’ soundtrack with her former band Pet, Lisa Papineau quit New England and moved to Paris where she wrote her debut solo album Night Moves. Three years on, Red Trees takes Papineau’s vision to the next level. Far more experimental vocally than Night Moves, many of these dozen songs are so strong vocally that they could quite easily have been delivered a cappella and not lose their power.

A chilling aura surrounds the whole album – a sense that is only heightened with the occasional inclusion of the organ from St Géraud’s church in Aurillac, France. On the dazzling opener ‘Rene Thomas’, it works to perfection. The exquisitely picked acoustic guitar of ‘Annette Tessier’ perfectly complements Papineau’s vocal, which carries with it a peculiar composure, while ‘Touch Time Out’ perfectly represents the French influence at large and would sound quite at home being played in a bustling café in central Paris. But mostly, like Björk’s Vespertine, this is a privately rewarding experience. In Red Trees, Papineau has succeeded in producing a complex, fascinating and experimental album, in the process creating an unusually comforting work.

Claire Robinson
UK release date: 27/07/09; www.myspace.com/lisapapineau

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