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Holly Miranda At Mrs. Fish, Thursday. May 21st 2015, Reviewed

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Holly Miranda

Her 2010 album ‘The Magician’s Private Library’ introduced Holly Miranda to the world, but I discovered her on Thursday night in the basement of a hip club downtown LA. She has just delivered her new and self-titled album via LA-based label Dangerbird, so you may think she took her time to release this new one, but she is also a very busy girl: she toured playing guitar for Karen O in support of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs frontgirl’s ‘Crush Songs’ album, she toured Spain for the annual Voces Femininas festival and she is also working on a graphic novel with Portland based artist Catherine Lazar Odell. But taking her time is probably part of her nature, as she seemed to take her time on stage, tuning her instruments, guitars and keyboard, having an almost nonchalant attitude, chatting and joking between songs.

Her music also followed the same path, opening vast horizons and slowly spreading to infinity with languid ambiances. This was particularly due to the spacious guitars but also to her very tuneful voice, going to some impressive heights at times, giving the impression you were hearing a not-so-easy-to-catch very pretty bird song. Actually she was so tuneful that when she stopped playing her piano, her voice was still going on, and it was the most melodious thing ever.

I got the surprise to see Imaad Wasif (Folk Implosion, Alaska!, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, EFG) joining her on stage, and I know we were here for a treat because of Imaad’s great talent on guitar. The songs like ‘Pelican Rapids’ or ‘Desert Call’ had this sort of hymn-like quality, ethereal and sprawling with vocal loops. Holly actual took a long trip in the desert to renew her musical inspiration and she found herself renting a house in Joshua Tree, getting away from Los Angeles, and reconnecting with herself and nature. Listening to the result, she seemed to be the perfect example of how an environment can influence creation, as you could get this out-of-place, almost spiritual, feeling through the songs, which strangely also had a sort of girl-group-Motown vibe. It was a bit bluesy and very soulful, as Miranda seemed to harmonize with herself, often coming with dramatic effects and goose bumps. The luminous-sounding ‘Mark my Words’ made her eerie croon shine like a limitless Laura Marling or even Cat Power, who would have listened to a lot of Jeff Buckley.

Her songs often had an unconventional and unexpected structure, but at the first listening, I could tell that the tone was personal and intimate, giving the type of performance you can only call authentic in default of another word. ‘This is the most honest thing I’ve ever made,’ she said of this new album in an interview. ‘It’s very raw and is a contrast to what I’ve done in the past.’ Her voice was peacefully floating above guitars or keyboard that she played for a few songs. ‘We put this band together 2 days ago,’ she said at one point, and it was very impressive as the three of them (Julian Gross of Liars was also playing drums) sounded fantastic. She played a few songs on piano, and a more upbeat one with the help of a friend, then went back to melancholia,equally bringing a true sweetness during ‘The Only One’. She even covered ‘Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood’, then asking the crowd for requests, ‘I am a juke box,’ she said and proposing us to imitate Bjork, Cher or Shakira on an helicopter… And she did a crazy-right-on Bjork!

Her new album was produced by herself and Florent Barbier (Coldcuts), except for a song assisted by David Sitek who produced her previous album, ‘The Magician’s Private Library’. And since Holly only slows down when she plays her songs, she is also part of this super girl group founded by Scarlett Johansson and supposedly influenced by Grimes, the Bangles and the Go-Go’s. This desert exiled has sure a vast sonic palette and she had a unique way to break emotionally on stage while looking so fierce and strong.

A few pictures of the show here.


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