In The Maybe World
Dream-like music is dime-a-dozen. I blame the unlikely success and acceptance of Tom Waits for this. I remember once back in the heady undergrad years I cajoled the manager into putting "16 shells from a Thirty-Ought Six" on the PA, and my out-of-town friends, all curious devotees of Rush and Peter Gabriel, nearly projectile vomited at the atrocity attacking their sense of Music. Now, all you need is a music box and a loose sense of melody and bang- dream sequence time and everyone takes it. I'm not against it unto itself, but I think this tendency for minor-key-molasses-tunes does a disservice to the unsettling nature of dreams. Dreams always take some awkward turn that no matter how good it was leaves you shaken when you are released from its clutch. I want my dream music to leave me feeling that way, and I may have found it in Lisa Germano.
Lisa Germano is one of those names that I recognize but can't place. She's frittered around on the periphery of a number of bands over the years, making possibly the only link between John Cougar Mellancamp and Iggy Pop, and emerges from those many varying cocoons as the poisonous butterfly on In the Maybe World. Throughout the record, she maintains a weedy breathiness in her lilting vocals and a slightly queasy array of canticles keeping the songs afloat. The words drift by on their own tributaries of the River Lethe. Your grasp on each morsel slips out of your hands as if it didn't exist in the first place. The thing that keeps this from completely blowing through unnoticed is Germano's theatrical delivery, where every once in a while you are jolted awake by a Gershwin-like passage. If Disney ever decides to make a touching animated feature for hard drug addicts, I recommend Lisa Germano for the big number.
"The Day" erupts mid piano-thunder and you are left hanging mid air for a few seconds before her velvet-lined clockwork starts ticking. Strings and pianos and echoed guitar shrieks all swirl together in the haze. "Too Much Space" chugs by with just some atmospherics, piano and her voice. The real winner here is "Moon in Hell" which bears some similarities to Chan Marshall's skeletal diary readings, but where Cat Power is an isolationist act, Lisa Germano is clearly a romantic. This record can fall into its own rabbit-hole if left on repeat, but there are a number of little surprises that pull it back out, like the heartfelt zombie slow dance number "Into Oblivion" which is gorgeous enough to possibly talk you out of that teenage suicide attempt you started when throwing it on. This fits in, and frankly bests, the work of other breathy ing?©nues like Sarah Mclaughlin and Tori Amos, making their exhale-heavy dirges sound like Oprah segments and freshman writing assignments, respectively. It is touching, sexy, lush, sparse and overall, delightfully narcotic.
Alex V. Cook listens to everything and writes about most of it. His latest book, the snappily titled Louisiana Saturday Night: Looking for a Good Time in South Louisiana's Juke Joints, Honky-Tonks, and Dance Halls is an odyssey from the backwoods bars and small-town dives to the swampside dance halls and converted clapboard barns of a Louisiana Saturday Night. Don't leave Heathrow without it. His first book Darkness Racket and Twang is available from SideCartel. The full effect can be had at alex v cook.com