Release Date: Jun 5, 2012
Record label: Saddle Creek Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Is it bad to fall in love with your subject? What about critical detachment, objectivity and all that? Regardless, Laura Burhenn slays any journalistic ethos. The multi-instrumentalist behind The Mynabirds—all emerald eyes, sonorous voice and staggering earnestness—is enough to make you melt—which is perhaps why, on her second solo album, she goes at length to make you freeze. For those familiar with Burhenn’s Southern soul-soaked debut album What We Lost in the Fire We Gained in the Flood, Generals may come somewhat as a surprise: the sepia tone has been exchanged for a blue filter.
The best decision Laura Burhenn ever made, career-wise, was ditching her lackluster former band-- Georgie James--to pursue her own vision. Under the Mynabirds moniker, she released What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood in 2010. That album embraced the best aspects of mid-'60s pop soul, but incorporated enough modern conceits to elevate the album above pastiche and 1960s worship: a Dusty in Memphis for the new millennium.From the smoky alto to lush production to the heavy eyeliner, Flood found Burhenn deftly connecting all the points in the blue-eyed soul aesthetic without veering into Dusty Dormp-Domp territory.
2010's What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood, the debut from the Laura Burhenn-led Mynabirds, was as effective as it was understated, skillfully blurring the line between '60s folk-pop and modern Americana. Listeners looking for another sultry set of Dusty Springfield/Linda Ronstadt/Carole King-inspired country-soul may find themselves a bit taken aback by the newly electrified Generals, but by upping the pop element, Burhenn and company have actually improved on their sound. Opinionated and empowering (the title's origin lies in an iconic 1963 photo titled "Generals of the Daughters of the American Revolution" taken by the late American photographer Richard Avedon) without ever coming off as preachy, Generals is a fired-up yet congenial high five of a record that keeps its retro-chic intact while allowing the band to expand its sonic horizons.
Laura Burhenn proved she could craft a pop record with the Mynabirds' 2010 debut, What We Lose in the Fire, We Gain in the Flood, a masterwork of Laurel Canyon-style blue-eyed pop soul. Her deeply political sophomore LP runs the risk of becoming another of the countless failed examples of those singer-songwriters whose best intentions fall short of qualifying as either good pop or moving rhetoric. It's a tough trick, translating your deeply held political conventions into good tunes.
What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood, the debut album by The Mynabirds (the project of Laura Burhenn after the breakup of her band Georgie James), was a wonderful song cycle of soulful Motown-esque pop R&B. On songs such as "Numbers Don't Lie" and "What We Gained in the Fire," Burhenn belted out irresistible melodies backed by a crack band of retro-sounding musicians. GENERALS, however, is, for the most part, nothing like What We Lose in the Fire.
Winner of 2010’s longest album title with What We Lose In the Fire We Gain in The Flood, The Mynabirds’ follow-up eschews verbosity and gets it down to a single word, Generals. Inspired by Richard Avedon’s iconic photograph, “Generals of the Daughters of the American Revolution”, Laura Burhenn juxtaposes the privileged, regal ladies of Avedon’s portrait with those she considers to be true daughters of the revolution, the likes, say, of Rosa Parks or Naomi Wolf. She considers how we can fight against the social and economic injustices of modern times without resorting to violent struggle.
The Mynabirds aim to spark a fire under listeners’ asses with their highly political sophomore album, Generals. Singer/songwriter Laura Burhenn holds nothing back on what she calls, “both a protest record and a concept album.” Compared to her 2010 debut album, What We Lose In The Fire We Gain In The Flood, Burhenn’s sound is grittier than ever. Working again with her loyal producer Richard Swift, they master what many think is impossible and maybe even contradictory; they create a serious and intellectual pop album.