Brad: One of the lead singers of the incredibly good and powerful prog band, IZZ, Laura Meade, has just released an incredibly good and powerful art rock album, The Most Dangerous Woman in America.
From its opening moments with a couple singing on the Seine to its closing notes of deep melancholic reflection, the album just moves and moves and moves and continues to move. Indeed, if there’s any flaw, the album is simply breathless. Or, rather, the listener is breathless at the end of each listen. There’s just so much going on, and Meade has one of the single best voices in rock today. This, of course, is a great thing, and even after ten to fifteen listens, I’m still utterly captivated by the music and the story. Driven by piano and bass throughout, The Most Dangerous Woman in America sounds like little else, though I hear echoes of Tori Amos and Talk Talk and some 1980s style atmospherics.
Whatever it borrows from others, though, this album is a work of unique genius.
Exactly who is The Most Dangerous Woman in America? Meade never reveals, and, far from being frustrating, the mystery of the identity of the lead singer continues to intrigue, listen after listen. Given the lyrics, this must’ve been a Hollywood celebrity. But, whether she was an actress or a director or producer (or all three) is unclear. For now, I’m happy to keep guessing.
By wisely keeping the identity of the protagonist quiet, Meade has created something more akin to myth and allegory than to story and narrative. Afterall, there may just be many possible dangerous women in America, women who once ruled the world but were soon forgotten.
Tad: Brad, thank you for putting this album on my radar; I wasn’t aware of it, and I am a big IZZ fan!
According to Laura’s official site, the album is about a woman who took a brave stand, and paid a price. In her own words,
“There have been so many people throughout history – many of them women – who stand up for themselves, stand up for what they believe in, and experience great pain and suffering for doing so, their memories and voices lost along the way to gossip and rumor. I hope that this album, in some small way, honors and gives voice to the forgotten.” (From http://www.laurameademusic.com/about.html)
John Galgano, bassist for IZZ, collaborated with Laura, and I think that accounts for the emphasis on that instrument. Like you, I love Laura’s voice; thankfully, she does not sing in that faux-innocent folkie style that dominates pop music these days. Laura isn’t afraid to use her impressive range of voice, moving from hushed to full-blast power in the space of a few bars.
While the album gets off to a slow start, in my opinion, the patient listener is rewarded with the extraordinary closing quartet of tracks: the title track, “The Shape of Shock”, “Forgive Me”, and the brief “Tell Me, Love”. “Forgive Me” is the song that I keep coming back to, with its exotic, almost middle-eastern feel. Its melody spirals up and up with unrelenting force, like a modern “Kashmir”. It’s definitely the highlight of the album for me.
IZZ’s last album, Don’t Panic, was one of my favorites of 2019, and Laura Meade’s The Most Dangerous Woman In America is a worthy successor. It has certainly brightened my 2021!
Here is the video for the first single of TMDWIA, “Burned At The Stake”: