Friday, May 28, 2010;
After the all-too-short run of D.C. indie pop duo Georgie James, Laura Burhenn, the group's chanteuse, left the District to plant roots in Nebraska. Clearly, her R&B, gospel and girl group records made the trip, because they seep into the sound of her new band, the Mynabirds.
Despite working with such a varied palette, her debut, "What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood," is a largely successful melding of these influences. The result is an album that can genre hop but still flow. What allows the songs to shift styles so convincingly is Burhenn's sultry voice, which shows new depth, added soul and, most important, range. In "LA Rain," she sounds pained and forlorn, and yet her wonderful melody on the bare-bones guitar pop song "Ways of Looking" is irresistibly catchy.
The songs deal with loss and recovery. At times she seems self-assured after how things have played out ("Numbers Don't Lie"). In other moments, past regrets linger despite efforts to push forward, as on "Right Place," where she sings: "I think about you time to time/And I still wonder why/But I haven't changed my mind/God knows I tried."
Few debuts are flawless, and "What We Lose" falls into that category. But the Mynabirds are worth watching.
-- Brandon Weigel