20 Watts

20 Watts Reviews Holly Miranda’s The Magician’s Private Library by JohnCassillo

Holly Miranda's solo debut creates a scenic and majestic world for listeners

PREVIEW: DOWNLOAD Holly Miranda’s “Forest Green Oh Forest Green” MP3
WE GIVE IT: 16/20 Watts

Walking us through the potential perils we can encounter while we dream, Holly Miranda‘s The Magician’s Private Library enchants amidst her stoic resolve. In spite of the singer’s noteworthy vocal appearances on Grey’s Anatomy while fronting The Jealous Girlfriends, it is the instrumentals that keep this album moving. The serene and moody world created by producer Dave Sitek of TV on the Radio is appropriately strong–never stealing the limelight from Miranda, but pushing her along just the same.

Emotionally, Miranda toys with popular appeal without getting too attached to her subject matter. Drifting through sleep, she describes her wants, needs and desires, before they find their final resting place on closer “Sleep On Fire.” But prior to this fitting finale, there’s a lot more to hear on The Magician’s Private Library.

From nightmares (“No One Just Is”), to appropriately labeled “Sweet Dreams,” the vocals combine with auxiliary percussion and conservative jazz elements to embrace their surroundings. Bounding through the dreamland created by the airy background sections, Miranda’s voice dances on tracks like single “Forest Green Oh Forest Green.” Her dusky, tempered vocal chords pepper each and every section with just enough intrigue to keep listeners coming back, thinking she still has something hiding behind the notes–and pretty face.

Shimmery and reserved, yet ambitious when necessary, Miranda’s debut looked to set her apart from the teams of contemporaries whom she will undoubtedly be compared to (Regina Spektor, Jenny Lewis, Leslie Feist to name a few). Yet, with all of that in mind, her stress of scenic soundscapes and a cascading, rough vocal approach could be just the difference she needs. Instead of a standard pop or singer-songwriter aesthetic, The Magician’s Private Library appears to audiences as an artistic, instrumentally-driven emotional trip. Whether or not listeners allow the album to forge a sentimental relationship with them, however, will be what ultimately decides its final evaluation.

–John Cassillo

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