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Meade, Laura: The Most Dangerous Woman In America

An integral part of US progsters IZZ since 2002, front-lady Laura Meade offered us Remedium in 2018, an album that truly captured imaginations while challenging preconceptions. The Most Dangerous Woman In America follows suit, a basis created by Meade and her partner in IZZ and life John Galgano that removes us far from what we may expect. The concept behind the daring title is that of silenced voices and intentionally forgotten stories and how this impacts much more on women throughout history and today than it does men. Meade herself may not be the most dangerous woman referred to - in fact I’m not sure any individual is truly revealed - but she is daring, with her art-rock that revolves around piano and which seems to have an 80s synth-pop heart, doubtless not what all that many people would expect from her… or maybe they would?

Short by modern album standard - TMDWIA doesn’t quite manage to reach the 40 minute mark - what this release does reveal though is a heady mix where the arrangements can veer wildly from open and spacious to crammed and rammed - and all in quick succession. Throughout, the floating but forceful vocals prove to be as captivating as one might expect, while the click and pop of electronic beats offers quite stark contrast to the organic piano work and Meade’s stunning voice. “The Shape Of Shock” is possibly the most such offering, a Kate Bush meets Peter Gabriel like verse lurching along in enigmatic fashion before exploding into all manner of colours and shapes in the chorus - joyous yet not quite joyful, buoyant yet not quite floating. Elsewhere I found the effect to be a harder one to truly meet head on, the opening song proper, “Leaving” never quite clicking into place as beats jostle against the keyboard melody for supremacy. Time has softened the jarring effect for me but never quite to the extent that allows the shimmering haze that seems to dull the impact to ever truly fall away.

And it’s a similar feel elsewhere, “Iconoclast” possessing a floating, soothing vocal that for me never quite comes to terms with a musical soundscape that again, doesn’t quite know where best to aim its intent. It’s not that what’s been presented here doesn’t come across as crafted, cared for and beautifully arranged, it does. However, on a purely personal level I’m not quite drawn into the heart of this release in the way that I couldn’t but help with Remedium. In truth, I want to like this album way more than I do. It’s central message is not just well intentioned, but vital and ever more relevant in our modern world, while the performances, in isolation, are nigh on perfect. However, bring it all together and I’m left feeling like I’m on the outside looking in, desperately searching for a key to unlock what I feel should be a glorious reward that I can’t quite locate.

Track Listing
1. On the Shores of the Seine
2. Leaving
3. Burned at the Stake
4. Iconoclast
5. End of the Road in Hollywood
6. Doesn't Change a Thing
7. The Most Dangerous Woman in America
8. The Shape of Shock
9. Forgive Me
10. Tell Me, Love

Added: July 25th 2021
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Laura Meade online
Hits: 378
Language: english

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