Plumbiferous Media

Light of X – Miranda Lee Richards

Feb 15th 2009
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Light of X - Miranda Lee RichardsMiranda Lee Richards
Light of X
Score: 60

Miranda Lee Richards is yet another of the crowd of singer-songwriters who have now become extremely common among rock and indie music, but with substantial influence from folk and country. Light of X is her second LP in eight years, following The Herethereafter, which enjoyed some success in Japan. Such sparse releases would be expected to lead to especially notable albums. However, this isn’t always the case.

Richards’ voice is airy, harmonic, and expressive, and among Light of X’s curious mix of folk and indie, it should by all rights fit perfectly. And fit it does, though perhaps too well. Richards’ voice certainly has emotive qualities, but it’s fairly consistent in its ebbs and flows, resulting in an unchanging experience with no real stand-out moments. This isn’t to say that Richards’ voice is boring, but rather that it fails to inspire any especial interest in the tracks themselves, which seem to sweep by one after the other.

With a set of interesting, perhaps even gripping lyrics, this problem could be abated. Sadly, no such luck. The lyrics of Light of X aren’t terrible, or even bad. They’re simply not especially interesting. Like many other albums in both the folk and country genres, and apparently therefore in the folk-country genre, Light of X largely deals with love of various sorts. This may not be out of the ordinary for any sort of music, but along with the unremarkable vocals and lyrics, the album seems to be one long love song told twelve different ways, and the distinctions really aren’t great enough for the lyrics to hold any interest past giving Richards something to sing about.

The first track on the album, “Breathless,” as its name might suggest, starts off as a swimming, light track, with rather simple instrumentals that give way for Richards’ voice, but almost so much so that they keep the track from reaching the point it’s meant to. The track takes another hit when a strong drum beat comes in, as it moves the attention from the vocals back to the quite uninteresting guitar and piano. The second track is then significantly more interesting, as far as the guitar and drums go, but the vocals then don’t quite fit in. “Savorin’ Your Smile” is the first track which manages to get the instrumentals to align with the vocals, and the rest of the album proceeds with much stronger mixing of the two parts, but it’s still hard to get the idea out of your head that there’s something that doesn’t quite come together.

While the album does manage to coalesce after a few false starts, it comes together to far too great an extent. Tracks such as “Hidden Treasure” constantly ensure that every crescendo and diminuendo on the part of Richards is matched by the rest of the instruments. Tracks need something to make them interesting, and if it’s not the instruments, vocals, or lyrics, then it has to be some interaction between the elements. In addition, the length of the tracks really doesn’t help make things more interesting. With an average length of almost 5 minutes, the tracks need some direction, and whatever amount that exists is overshadowed by phrases repeated more than just one too many times. The album drags, even for one that’s meant to be slow.

What’s really disappointing about Light of X is not that it’s a bad album. Every single track provides a completely different sound – and that’s pretty amazing in itself, as Richards doesn’t even need to move outside of her genre to manage this. But while some tracks like “That Baby” stop right where they start, at being pretty amazing, many others are marred by their excessive length, or pestering mismatches between the instrumentals and vocals. Consequently, Light of X isn’t as good an album as it could have been.

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