Mary Lou Lord - Got No Shadow - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Mary Lou Lord - Got No Shadow

by Jeff Penczak Rating:9 Release Date:2018-10-26
Mary Lou Lord - Got No Shadow
Mary Lou Lord - Got No Shadow

Lord began her career in the early '90s busking in the London underground, seeking comfort from her unheated squat. Returning home to the Boston area, she continued performing in the Boston underground/subway stations, honing her craft and expanding her repertoire to over 300 songs by the likes of Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, and Richard Thompson, who claimed her version of his ‘Wall of Death’ was better than his original!

By 1993, super indie Kill Rock Stars released her debut single, the brilliant, career-defining jangly pop confessional ‘Some Jingle Jangle Morning’ (a song which recounts her relationship with Kurt Cobain in particular and the whole Seattle drug scene in general), followed by her eponymous mini-album in 1995. In 1997, Lord performed at the first Terrastock festival in Providence, Rhode Island, and it was here she forged a lifelong friendship with Bevis Frond frontman, Nick Saloman. It was around this time that a  major label bidding war ensued (she says she entertained offers from no less than 15 suitors) and in 1998, she became the first artist signed to Sony subsidiary, Work. (She would later joke that she was also the first artist DROPPED by the label!)

The resulting Got No Shadow was released to universal critical acclaim and includes a radical reworking of ‘Some Jingle Jangle Morning’, along with a dozen other gems like ‘His Lamest Flame’ and ‘He Had You’, mostly written by or with Saloman, who plays guitar throughout. Even Roger McGuinn dropped by to lend his distinctive 12-string Rickenbacker to a revamped version of Saloman’s ‘Lights Are Changing’ (which Lord originally recorded for her aforementioned ’95 debut). Additional support is provided by other top notch players including Shawn Colvin and Elliot Smith, so we are pleased that Fire are releasing this 20th anniversary edition.

Lord's originals have an autobiographical air, including the self-explanatory 'Subway' alongside bleak, harrowing tales of life on the road, rife with cocaine and heroin addiction ("My dance with Mr. Brownstone got too rough"), and alcoholism (‘Western Union Desperate’, ‘Throngs of Blowtown’, and ‘Seven Sisters’). The fact that they are delivered with such uptempo, pop enthusiasm belies deep seated truths and early warning signs of personal demons that wouldn't manifest themselves for several months.

With major label support, original sales of Got No Shadow topped 60,000 and Mary Lou was able to graduate from subway platforms to center stages at some of the most prestigious indie festivals, including South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, the Lillith Fair, and the aforementioned Terrastock.

For this reissue, Fire have unfortunately elected not to include the 4-song “Pace of Change” EP that was part of the original WORK release, so purchasers will miss out on boss covers of Saloman and Thompson, along with a couple exclusive Lord tracks. Completists and fans will have to pick these up elsewhere. But at least we have a fresh airing of this significant, er, WORK, one which should encourage every fan of jingle jangle pop tunes to seek out Lord’s impressive back catalogue.


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