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Album Review
The Magicians Private Library

The Magicians Private Library
by Holly Miranda


Review Date
25th November 2010
Reviewed by
Brannavan Gnanalingam

New Yorker Holly Miranda’s debut album title The Magician’s Private Library implies a kind of whimsy and wonderment that isn’t actually there on the album. Far from being a weakness (aside from the fact the album should have a different title), the music contained within is deeply felt and beautiful. The album is helped considerably by wonder-producer David Sitek (also a member of TV on the Radio, and he’s produced albums by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Liars etc.), who manages to make the album sound like shadows at twilight.

The album features swirling brass, dense production, and a breathless intensity – and luckily Miranda is able to write melodies which manage to support all this. Otherwise, this album could be totally overshadowed by Sitek’s absolutely brilliant work here. ‘Forest Green oh Forest Green’ immediately shows off Sitek’s production and Miranda’s songwriting at once, and is a fitting opener. Songs like ‘Waves’ have already made it onto ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ yet aren’t hampered by the MOR potential of that reference. ‘Everytime I Go to Sleep’ has wonderfully cooing brass and delicate melodies. However some of the weaker songs e.g. ‘High Tide’ sink under a slightly lacklustre musical statement.

However, the album’s biggest weakness, ironically, is Miranda herself. Her biography hints at a crazy musical career to date – record deals with the Mafia, plenty of unfulfilled promise, and a belated break. Yet, for someone with such an interesting backstory, her lyrics are deathly dull. The best singer-songwriters assert their personality in their songs – and in the album, Miranda’s is noticeably absent. However, this doesn’t take too much away from the album, and is certainly not fatal – it just doesn’t match the hype her music is receiving. But her arrangements, and production are superb, and her vocals and melodies are well on the way to turning this affecting musician into a star.

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