Categorized | Album Reviews

Girlyman – Supernova

Posted on 16 May 2012 by Joe

When Girlyman’s Doris Muramatsu was diagnosed with leukemia in 2010 the band’s world caved in. For the next nine months tours this US vocal harmony folk act’s career was put on hold and Muramatsu embarked on her painfully frightening journey through blood transfusions, hospital visits and chemotherapy.

Finally, last year she received the news this horrific disease was in remission. Supernova, the band’s fifth album is very much about this time and littered with tracks of mortality, bravery and introspection. It’s not a sad album by any means. This is an album about facing death and being dragged back into the light especially on tracks such as Nothing Left and Break Me Slow.

The problem is though that in comparison to their other work, most notably 2009’s Everything’s Easy, this focus on such painful subject matter has meant the fine attention to detail on the vocal production and harmonies appears to have taken a back seat.  Too many tracks seem to focus on one lead singer with backing vocals, rather than the clever three part vocal arrangements on Everything’s Easy. Caroline and Break Me Slow in particular sound bland without such vocal invention.

The mix by Ben Wisch, who did such a fine job making Everything’s Easy sound like the band were in the room with you, has given this latest album a lifeless quality. Which is cruelly ironic given much of the subject matter.

That’s not to say it’s a bad album. It’s sure to please Girlyman’s fans and this reviewer for one is delighted that Muramatsu, a beautifully voiced American I’ve never met, has beaten this horrible disease.

But after a number of listens of the album, St Augustine, with its wonderful melody and cello, is the only track I want to come back to.

Back in my local newspaper journalism days I interviewed many people with leukemia, some fortunate like Muramatsu and some less fortunate. It is a truly terrible disease and we urge you to visit this website  for the Anthony Nolan Trust and feel free to make a contribution or show your support.

6/10

by Joe Lepper

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