Saddle Creek | The Mynabirds | Reviews


What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood

Author: Emily Becker
04/30/2010 | Venus | | Album Review
Laura Burhenn, no stranger to the music scene, proves that while talent is not an accurate barometer for fame, perseverance can still pay great musical dividends. She has had her own label, Laboratory Records, and released two adult-contemporary style solo records, Not Ashamed to Say (1999) and Wanderlust (2004), before forming the D.C.-based indie pop duo Georgie James with former Q and Not U drummer John Davis.

What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood, the debut from her latest project, the Mynabirds, finds Burhenn crafting a perfect period piece that both reinvigorates and modernizes the iconic '60s chanteuse.

Burhenn immersed herself in the nuances of her chosen subgenre like a method actor prepping for an Oscar-worthy performance, and she gives the listener the best work of her career. There are shades of Dusty Springfield, as well as Chan Marshall and Jenny Lewis, but Burhenn's wide stylistic range is a far cry from mimicry. The title track sets the tone for the entire record, as piano chords map out familiar, achy emotions saturated with rich, smoky vocals before the song crescendos into a chorus of horns and gospel-influenced harmonies. Marching piano chords lead the heart away from the precipice on "Wash It Out," while "Let the Record Go" is lean and bluesy, leaving room to slow the tempo down on ballads like "Give It Time" and "Good Heart."

Burhenn's inspiration draws on a time when women performed ensconced in chiffon, not daring to set foot on stage without just the right dress, hair, and make-up. Yet identifying with a specific time period that wasn't amenable to women's self-expression led Burhenn to create music that feels free despite its conventions. On "Ways of Looking," it's Burhenn who snaps the soft focus lens into perfect clarity, singing, "There are so many ways of looking / It can be easy if you just let it."


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