Holly Miranda - Envelope, Brooklyn, NYC - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Holly Miranda - Envelope, Brooklyn, NYC

by Hiro Master Rating:8 Release Date:

John Peel had one rule: no saxophones. In his autobiography, Margrave of the Marshes, he made it abundantly clear that no demo tape featuring a sax would make it into his list to listen to. But for all his genius, thank Christ not everyone shared his stubbornness about that instrument. Because then we never would have had Holly Miranda.

Her tenor saxophone is the least of the band's appeal, but an important accompaniment to a superb talent. There's a distinct sense of fortuitousness among the 50 or so fans packed into this space in Bushwick, Brooklyn, no larger than a front room. As Miranda and her band (minus drums) take to the makeshift stage and launch into 'Joints', powering out the track's crescendo with unbridled enthusiasm, the majority realize we're witnessing something special - an artist at the foot of ascension taking the time to pay homage to the area and the people that she still calls "home".

Tonight's show is the first of a new monthly series put on by Envelope, a new Brooklyn-based venue, recording space and record label. You can see Miranda's excited to be in the company of her people. She's in sassy form as she delights male and female alike with the threat to take off her non-breathable top, were it not for a lack of bra. And she stays like that throughout the evening, a gifted singer joking among friends, faltering constantly at the beginning of songs and giggling childishly as she apologizes to Leonard Cohen for struggling around 'I'm Your Man'.

But her covers, which also include David Byrne and Pink Floyd, are merely padding for her own accomplished works. Her debut solo album, The Magician's Private Library, gets a thorough working over. She dispenses with 'Waves', the album's best-known and arguably most powerful song, early in the set to focus on the rest of her repertoire. She moves seamlessly between piano and guitar, showing her aptitude on the ivories to maximum effect during 'Forest Green, Oh Forest Green'.

She saves the best for last, however. The band strolls back through the crowd as the majority turn towards the exit for 'Slow Burn Treason', a track that replicates its name, burning slowly into a fierce finale that gives Miranda's chilling voice space to shine.

It's live that this band needs to be seen. Although her album has met critical acclaim, its heavy production detracts from just how brilliant Miranda sounds. Live, these tracks are at their rawest and her voice at its most powerful. You just sense that this show will stay planted in this small audience's memory for many years to come.

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As much as I love John Peel, he was so wrong about the saxophone. Without we wouldn't have had Bowie's Diamond Dogs album which I'm playing to death right now. Peel also loved Tubular Bells, so he didn't always get it right but I think that was...

As much as I love John Peel, he was so wrong about the saxophone. Without we wouldn't have had Bowie's Diamond Dogs album which I'm playing to death right now. Peel also loved Tubular Bells, so he didn't always get it right but I think that was part of his appeal.

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Saxophones are goddam awful and usually destroy music, but there is the odd place for them (Laura Logic, Misty's Big Adventure) - now bagpipes are just the worst instrument in the world!

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