Lisa Germano | ReviewLisa Germano raises more questions about life than she answers In the Maybe World
August 15, 2006
At its heart, Lisa Germano's In the Maybe World is an album rife with optimism. It's also a work that arrives at that optimism via a circuitous journey landmarked by the pain of failed relationships and emotional ambiguities.
In a voice that rarely rises above a whisper, Germano gently guides the listener through a world that is at once ominous and strangely beautiful, an ambient landscape of almost childlike simplicity. It's a piebald land of innocence marred by the intrusion of mundane realities, and she traverses through it like a weary veteran. "Let the love go/ Let the love be," Germano pointedly pleas in "The Seed," underscoring the prevalent theme of the album - through loss, we grow stronger.
Whether she's eulogizing her beloved cat ("Golden Cities") or playing both roles in a dysfunctional but loving relationship (Red Thread"), Germano's trademark whisper is anything but brittle - it is the sound of a razor slicing through virgin linen. Backed by her own barebones instrumentation of piano, violin and guitar, and supplemented by Johnny Mar's haunting guitar phrasings on "Into Oblivion" and "Wire", coupled with Sebastian Steinberg's masterful string bass work on several tracks, In the Maybe World strikes at a visceral level that belies its simplicity.
Lisa Germano has always put her craft above the demands of the machinery that is the recording industry. That is a trait that is becoming increasingly rare, but is nowhere near extinction. Germano, like Kate Bush and PJ Harvey, isn't remotely concerned about churning out a hit record. Instead, she invites the listener to join her in an ongoing debate she's having with her personal demons. Often as not, she confronts them head-on and wins, however ambiguous the victory may be.
In the Maybe World, though, illustrates the power of little victories in our daily lives. It's the kind of album that you listen to at night ‹ soft and melodic, with a quiet message of hope for a better tomorrow. "I try to love you when I can / When it's alright to be who I am", she says on "After Monday." Tuesday will be better, and it's that seemingly bleak optimism that drives this album.
Lisa Germano raises more questions about life than she answers, and that's what makes her so compelling. That she accomplishes this in an album scarcely 30 minutes long speaks volumes.