Got No Shadow

Mary Lou Lord

The Work Group, 1998

http://www.maryloulord.net

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 02/24/1998

Every so often, an album comes out that is so quirky and poppy that it instantly catches your ear and makes you want to hear more. Liz Phair shocked us into that position a few years ago, Shawn Colvin warmed her way into our hearts last year with A Few Small Repairs. Now, make way for Mary Lou Lord, whose debut Got No Shadow takes the best parts of the two singers previously mentioned and works them into her own style.

Presently best-known for performing in the Boston-area subways (a situation which should soon change), Lord makes a powerful first statement with these 13 songs. Her songwriting abilities are well above average, and her voice is able to convey a whole gamut of emotions without having to change volume.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Of course, having a few friends in high places doesn't hurt things; Colvin herself provides background vocals on "Subway," while Roger McGuinn - perhaps you've heard of him? - adds a little 12-string action in "Lights Are Changing," a song which has "first single" written all over it. And famed producer Tom Lord-Alge's mixing of "Some Jingle Jangle Morning" (to my ear, the best song on the disc) takes an already great track to new heights. If this one doesn't have you turning your ear for a second listen, then I don't know what will.

But what really makes Lord stand out is her attention to detail of the human condition - she uses the framework of a song like an artist would use a new canvas. On "She Had You," Lord takes a look back at the area she grew up in... and broke out of: "I have respect now - I always knew I would / 'Cause I had a passport - out of the neighborhood." On "Throng Of Blowtown," she takes an outsider's look at a typical night in the life of the city she calls home, and touches on just a few of the million stories she bears witness to. Even on "His Lamest Flame," though Lord might be singing about herself and a lover she pines for, she makes it feel like that could be us she's singing about.

Got No Shadow has everything going for it, yet I still am disappointed that Lord is not credited with one guitar line on the whole album, despite posing for several pictures holding guitars. It's not that performers like Elliott Smith or Nick Saloman are bad, it's just that for someone so touted as a performer, it would have been nice to hear even one cut with the raw, unrehearsed sound of just Lord, her voice and guitar... and maybe a passing subway train in the background.

Got No Shadow is an album that proves the age of the singer/songwriter is alive and well, and that Lord is poised to be the next big name on your radio dial, given the right breaks. Trust me - she's earned 'em.

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of The Work Group, and is used for informational purposes only.