album artwork by Molly Zenobia

album artwork by Molly Zenobia

Forgive the long absence. I’m way behind on new music (and old music), so I’ll get right down to it. Here’s the first in a series of some recent releases from Boston-area bands. And when I say “recent”, I mean since February. In this installment, Broadway-by-way-of-Danceteria chanteuse Lainey SchoolTree has an elegant new album, My Metal Mother.

For an askew, metallic take on the Broadway showtune tradition, have a listen to Lainey SchoolTree’s just-released My Metal Mother. I had the pleasure of seeing her perform at Cafe 939 back some time ago. She has a lovely, technically accomplished and emotionally expressive voice, accompanying herself on piano that night. On this recording, she performs on piano, synths and drums, doing all her own writing, arranging and recording.

The album starts with a traditional ballad, “After You’re Gone”, yet it incorporates synthetic flavorings that give it a bite, and by the time we get to later compositions, and especially the final track, we’re in an entirely different and unexpected place. There are glimmers of 70s soul, 80s synth-pop, and German electronica – all against a charming backdrop of musical theater. Songs like “You Never Go Through” and “Ordinary Life” have those electro-pop touches that add dimension and an interesting twist. Lyrically, there’s surprising darkness and depth that gives this recording a slowly unfolding quality that greatly rewards repeated listens.

“We go into holding on, straight to losing control
into love and despair, into bottomless holes
into what you despise, into enemy eyes
into what we all know’s just ordinary life.”

“Hey, was it the death you wanted to die?
did you get to close your eyes?
was it all nice and dignified?”
– “Ordinary Life”

“Disappearing” is quietly heartbreaking; beautiful in its simplicity of voice and piano; “The Orange Grove” layers Lainey’s ethereal vocals and adds a touch of electronica to produce something dreamlike and psychedelic. The title track, which closes the album, is the most delightfully alien; it’s a walk through Kraftwerk ruins while contemplating lineage – “My metal mother / gives me food and water / to love, she would aspire / but her heart is made of wire. / my human father / measures my progress / rates my acclimation to a life of deprivation.”

Unique and compelling… highly recommended.

About the recording: “So between the dates of February 1st and the 28th, I recorded an album for the RPM Challenge 2011 ( My challenge to myself: write, arrange, produce, record, play, and/or sequence everything yo’self. The result was a transformative experience that changed my life. It was an amazing and often painful exercise in subverting perfectionism, not eating/sleeping, and consolidating my roles as producer / engineer / artist / nutcase.”

Upcoming shows
07/02 Saturday – The Rosebud
w/Molly Zenobia

August @ The Lizard Lounge
Jaggery residency! (I will most certainly list when I have more details..) | bandcamp | twitter | facebook | youtube

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