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Album review: Miranda Lee Richards' 'Light of X'

February 9, 2009 |  2:37 pm

Miranda The difference between regular ol' country music and the California variety is the difference between life as it is and what it could be. The Nashville industrial complex makes a fetish out of shoehorning everyday images into grand song structures. L.A.'s ladies of the canyons, such as Joni Mitchell and Miranda Lee Richards, see it differently. They've long traded some of the pop immediacy on the back end for a woozy, magic-hour daze that in the right hands can be just as vital.

Richards often errs on the side of wispy and ephemeral on her new album, "Light of X," but albums can do worse things than wash over you like a hillside sunset. "Early November" and "Mirror at the End" add some creepy, minor-key minimalism to the atmosphere, while "Lifeboat" is so intimately recorded you can hear individual brush hairs scraping the snare drum.

Richards' workably lilting alto would do well to be challenged by some more ambitious or revealing material in the future. But as Nashville reminds us, real life has enough strain. These days, taking it easy is a worthy fantasy in itself.

--August Brown

Miranda Lee Richards
"Light Of X"
Nettwerk
Two and a half stars

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