A songwriter friend of mine, who once was a ferocious dope fiend and who shall go unnamed here, is fond of saying, “I’m not a recovering anything — I just manage my life.” He’d likely agree with me, then, when I submit it’s extremely risky for a musician to detail, on record, his or her plunge into booze, self-loathing and artistic second-guessing. I mean, everybody loves a good train wreck, but who needs a record collection full of ’em? And to be sure, Lisa Germano’s whiskey-soaked chronicle of isolation and post-4AD Records traumatic stress disorder is equal parts indulgence and poignancy. Lullaby only runs for 36 minutes but the dozen songs trudge by at such a molasses pace that the record seems to last for hours. Halting rhythms, funereal keyboards and odd swipes of discordant guitar and spooky violin pick at Germano’s trembly, hesitant voice as if it were a nagging scab.
Yet found among the psychic ruins are moments of melodic brilliance (the sweetly gothic “From A Shell”; the humming, childlike reverie of “It’s Party Time”) and lyrical resolve (“Apologize/In disguise/All they see is your lies and your tries,” from “All The Pretty Lies”). Germano’s personal tough-love strategy here has an oddly therapeutic (read: uplifting) effect upon the listener, and it’s to her credit that she opted not to drag her audience through some sappy aural version of a 12-step program. We’d be demanding she make amends for that artistic mishap long before she even reached step nine.
E-mail Fred Mills at [email protected].