Review Summary: A must hear and a great start to a promising career
The debut album by Lisa Germano is carefully planned out, as I imagine she worked the songs over and over in her mind while playing back up on tour with John Mellencamp. A huge blues rock influence can be heard the pounding “Dig My Own Grave”, which is a song that follows no traditional route in structure; it is more like the song itself is having a mental breakdown. The more accessible “Guessing Game” and “Hanging with a Deadman” should have found Germano a bigger audience, and rank among the best singles-that-never-were of the early 1990’s. Songs such as “Cry Baby” aim to reach a deeper human foundation with the lyrics, and well as the Joni Mitchell sound alike “Bye Bye Doggie”, and both songs are at once profound and soul searching. The ethereal “The Other One” shows an artist more interested in psychedelic music, or perhaps “psychosis” music is more accurate, as again the singer sounds on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
There are some traces of musical influence as well, the obvious blues-rock of Mellancamp or even more precisely Bruce Springsteen, who’s existential anguish rarely reached the kinds of depths Germano achieves here. “Blue Monday” and “Riding My Bike” are perhaps a little too simplistic, as the latter even rips off a melody from Camper van Beethoven’s “Waka” from 1988 album Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart , but the majority of the record definitely creates its own universe. Musical influences are surprisingly hard to find here, as Germano’s music is an odd mix of classical music whimsy and blues rock traditions colliding with folk music instrumentals. The way her vocals compete and collide with themselves over her whispered remarks is a joy to behold.
Five out of the thirteen songs here are instrumentals, all showing off Germano’s skills on the violin beautifully. “Dark Eerie” lives up to its name by closing the album with a solemn gesture; “Simply Tony” is one of the better instrumentals of all time, repeating a theme that Germano would return to throughout her career as a gentle guitar is strummed and picked while a violin pops in to accompany it; the title track and the shorter “Calling” are more akin to classical music with no repeating patterns to be found; “Screaming Angles Dancing in Your Garden” adds tribal percussion to the madness. The album is very eclectic and consistent for a debut album, as it sounds meticulously constructed even though it is at times almost painfully lo-fidelity. A must hear and a great start to a promising career.