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Album Review

LISBEE STAINTON
Girl On an Unmade Bed

Half a minute into Red, track one of Lisbee Stainton's Girl On an Unmade Bed, I knew I was onto something--- or, in this case, someone. Thank God that the record industry no longer has the power to separate its idea of wheat from chaff as they did in the record industry's stone age (meaning ten years or so ago and before) or I more than likely would have neither heard of nor heard Stainton and her songs and that would have been a tragedy, of sorts, for what Stainton writes, she writes very very well and when she sings..... Oh, when she sings!

I sit here listening to the CD for maybe the fiftieth time and am amazed because the music, instead of wearing itself thin, sounds better than ever. From the harmony on the chorus of the aforementioned Red through the shades of the Loreena McKennitt-ish Girl On an Unmade Bed (I am thinking of McKennitt, am I not?) to the sunshiny and bouncy Harriet, Stainton rises above the majority of singer/songwriters on today's market. She rocks with an intriguing jazzy twist on Is Whispering, rides the folk train on Underground and uses almost fifties' or sixties' production values with plucked strings on the pop-rocking Never Quite an Angel with amazing effect. Hey, I know my pop and what Lisbee does here is above and beyond, the plucked strings and what I believe is muted glockenspiel leading into a jazz-tinged pop tune of distinction. Catch the Beach Boys-sounding keyboards three-quarters of the way through, the spot-on the chorus, the vibes (or is it keyboards run through reverb?) in the background... all of this and more in one three and a half minute song. It happens all too seldom.

I could go into deep detail of each and every song, but when the music is this good, words fail. Still, allow me a few about Harriet. For some reason, this song (almost a ditty, by some standards) will not get out of my head. Sung with British accent, it is light pop reminiscent of the Brit Pop of the mid- to late-sixties--- good melody made great by the hook on the chorus and lightened by subject matter. Harriet, evidently, had been on Stainton's case to write a song about her so Stainton did, “just to get her out of my room.” This is Stainton's version of “It's Good News Week” or “Thank U Very Much”--- light, airy and downright smile-inducing. If AM radio were alive today, they'd be having a field day.

Lisbee Stainton has been touring Europe extensively with Joan Armatrading recently, which says a lot about her. You don't get a tour like that without having something going for you. With Stainton, I believe it is more like everything. What is that old saying? God, I love it when a song comes together? If it isn't, it should be, if only to point to the twelve beauties Stainton put on this album. Girl On an Unmade Bed is instant collector's item, twenty years from now. Don't miss out.

Frank O. Gutch Jr.

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