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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