Release Date: Feb 23, 2010
Record label: XL
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
Spellbinding solo debut from former Jealous’ Girlfriends frontwoman “Open up your head, we found a secret,” Holly Miranda promises on “Forest Green Oh Forest Green,” the first track of her debut LP. The soulful Brooklynite could well be referring to her album itself, which is strewn with hidden gems furnished by David Sitek’s deft production and Miranda’s skillful songwriting. High points are plentiful; on “Waves,” Sitek’s pitter-patter percussion buoys Miranda’s stirring delivery, and the shimmering guitar hooks and cymbal splashes that open “Joints” underscore her spectral narrative of being haunted by unrequited love.
The average American will sleep 216,000 hours in their lifetime, give or take some tosses and turns. Of those hours, about 5%-- or 11,000 full clock turns-- are spent in a state somewhere between slumber and alert, when you're not sure where you are or what day it is or if that lingering dread is real or just a remnant of a nasty dream. Detroit-raised, Brooklyn-based 27-year-old Holly Miranda's debut album is the soundtrack to that uncertain limbo.
Created during a month’s worth of late-night recording sessions, The Magician’s Private Library exhibits the sort of atmospheric, 3 a.m. ambience once popularized by the likes of Mazzy Star and Mojave 3. It also marks a return to Holly Miranda’s solo career, a profession she put on hold in 2003 to form the Jealous Girlfriends with producer Alex Lipsen.
You will know within a few moments of listening to Holly Miranda whether on not she is going to ring your musical bell. Having spent her youth in her native Brooklyn with punk band The Jealous Girlfriends, Miranda has now branched out alone and picked up her neglected acoustic guitar to craft a modern folk sound imbued with melancholy. If that doesn’t perk your interest then take heed of the album's contributors, chiefly producer Dave Sitek of TV On The Radio and his bandmate Kyp Malone, who makes various vocal appearances.
The debut by former Jealous Girlfriends lead singer Holly Miranda is confident and self-assured, but it's not her presence that commands attention - it's Dave Sitek's. From the first horn blasts of Forest Green Oh Forest Green to the echoey reverb of Sleep On Fire, the producer's influence is undeniable. Unlike his last solo female collaborator, however, Miranda has the chops to pull it off.
Any TV on the Radio fan who stumbled upon Forest Green Oh Forest Green, the opening track of The Magician's Private Library, might wonder why it is attributed to Holly Miranda. Her voice is barely noticeable on it, overshadowed by the lustrous falsetto of Brendan Coon amid a shower of notes from trumpets, saxophones, keyboards and guitars. Having not been in the studio, it's impossible to say how much Miranda is responsible for the shimmering, luxuriant music on this album, and how much was conjured up by her magician of a producer, TVOR mastermind Dave Sitek.
For her debut LP,The Magician’s Private Library, singer/songwriter Holly Miranda enlisted the aid of TV on the Radio as well as their frequent cohorts, Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra. TVOTR’s resident knob-twiddler, Dave Sitek, handled production duties, Kyp Malone provides vocal support and Antibalas frequently slather on their horn-y goodness. While this all sounds wonderful in theory, the execution creates an unfortunate predicament: I can’t tell where TV on the Radio ends, and Holly Miranda begins.
If Miranda is blowing up, she’s destined to do it in a quiet way. Louis Pattison 2010 Holly Miranda has been sat on her debut solo album for a good year or so, over which time this Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter has built up quite a head of hype. First, there was the news that she was working with David Sitek, mad scientist behind TV on the Radio and go-to studio guy for seemingly every forward-thinking band in New York City.
As someone who grew up in a home where listening to secular music was strictly forbidden and where church was a near-daily ritual, the music Holly Miranda creates is ominously shrouded with dark atmospherics. Her initial role in music was as a member of The Jealous Girlfriends and there is a rather gripping story regarding how she met producer/musician Dave Sitek. But when your talent is an unrelenting presence of skill and beauty, even Miranda can nod to the rest of us with just how much of her music is waiting to be revealed.