By Blake Mitchem
Previously a part of the Scarlett Johansson fronted super group "The Singles", Holly Miranda proves she can stand on her own feet in her latest self-titled release. On the first track "Mark My Words" she opens with the words "Sneaking words into your pockets//Bleeding lyrics from my veins" and she does just that. With soft vocal patterns and sweeping harmonies the melody would be enough on its own. However it isn't on its own; it is accompanied by haunting turns of phrase and statements about love that range from youthful angst to aged wisdom. If your run-of-the-mill pop song reads like a memoir - as most do - this record reads like a love letter that you weren't supposed to find, tucked in a drawer of a night stand covered in dust.
Moving to the single "All I Want is To Be Your Girl" we find Miranda in a desperate and youthful dance with the subject of the track that could've been set in a high school house party. It's happy summertime vibes at their best. Driving in a car with that person you love most, windows down and radio blaring. The track that really struck me was "Everlasting" where the harmonies slide in and out of the expected notes resolving at unexpected times. It's the kind of thing a classical voice coach can't teach you: it's soul. At first glance and initial listen, it smells like the angst-ridden cries of teenage love. However, as the track progresses the sound changes from desperation to confidence as guitars swell like waves and Miranda's voice becomes confident. Less like the cries of an unexperienced lover and more like a conqueror who's overcome obstacles to say what she knows she must, to the person she knows she wants.
As the album reaches "Desert Call" it begins to wind down. The messages become forlorn and distant, the melodies more beautiful and her tones more ambitious. Less is more, but only when you know which parts to keep and which to discard. Miranda knows the answer to those questions. Ending with "Hymnal", which could have easily been the prettiest song on the album, she cuts it short, almost as if she's pausing to take a breath before she finishes her thought. I for one hope she does because artists like this don't come around often.