PRESS

lisa germano / magic neighbor review

blurt magazine / jennifer kelly

Germano again wraps disturbing imagery and disquieting epiphanies in velvety textures of piano and violin. However, her subject here seems to be less one of romantic suffering and more of escape through art.

Blurt

http://www.blurt-online.com/reviews/view/1538/

10/09/2009

Lisa Germano

Magic Neighbor
(Young God)

by JENNIFER KELLY

Since her 4AD days, Lisa Germano has set harrowing narratives to beautiful
melodies, most notoriously, perhaps, in Geek the Girl's "A Psychopath" with
its incorporated 9-1-1 call. For Magic Neighbor, her sixth solo album,
Germano again wraps disturbing imagery and disquieting epiphanies in velvety
textures of piano and violin. However, her subject here seems to be less one
of romantic suffering and more of escape through art. Germano has, perhaps,
entered a stage of life where interpersonal conflicts simmer, rather than
erupting into violence, where long-term lovers make a deal to ignore their
relationship's worst aspects. Magic Neighbor is about coming to terms with
not-quite-satisfactory ever-afters, about leaving mundane compromises
through stories and imaginary painted doors.

You can hear the tension in the music, as well as the words, as bits of
orchestral fantasia introduce a flight to imagination. There's a syrup-y
swoon of violin at the break in "To the Mighty One" just before Germano
begins to imagine a story where "I am in control today." A fillip of flute
and violin waltz frippery marks the shift in "Simple" when Germano takes
leave of blues-strummed realism and begins to consider what would happen "If
I ran away." "Oh tell me a story," she insists in her shrouded whisper, at
the beginning of "The Prince of Piati," as if happier, simpler narratives
were just a once upon a time away. And the people she values the highest
take her entirely out of the mundane world, into a fantastic place where
anything can happen, even happiness. "He must be a god/He can turn cats into
furniture," she remarks in "Magic Neighbor". The real world is of limited
interest here.

As in past recordings, Germano's voice is a clear, quiet luxury, breathy and
private, untouched by vibrato. Her playing - on piano, violin and guitar -
fills in the melodies beautifully, often working in slight syncopation to
the lyrics or fading to barely perceptible volume under her voice. Songs
flow smoothly, eddies of fiddle swirling around occasional bumps and pauses
in the melodic line but mostly full of cool, liquid clarity. Little tempest
of noise and distortion sometimes pass over the surface (listen especially
to "A Million Times"), but leave these songs as unmarked and pure as
lullabies.
Moreover, there's a serenity to this album that seems to mark an end to long
suffering. Germano has always been engaged in overcoming fear and hurt
through musical beauty. With Magic Neighbor she seems, finally, to have
found the escape hatch.

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