MIRANDA LEE RICHARDS

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EXISTENTIAL BEAST PRESS

 

DOWNBEAT (October 5, 2017)

****

 

San Francisco’s Miranda Lee Richards appears to be orbiting Earth on Existential Beast, an album that puts the “cosmic” in cosmic American music and whose philosophical lyrics earn its title. Even at its most upbeat, this is a dark record with strong psychedelic overtones that follow her from style to style, whether she’s doing a near-acapella chant on “Back To The Source” or adding a spoken-word coda over the rolling jangle of “Golden Gate.”

 

 

PENNY BLACK MUSIC (September 19, 2017)

Carl Bookstein

 

Miranda Lee Richards’ follow-up to the evocative 2016 Echoes of the Dreamtime album is the challenging, thought-provoking, political Existential Beast, now released on the Invisible Hands Music label.

With soft tones initiated from the get go, 'Ashes and Seeds' is a fine opener. “While history repeats and repeats,” Richards sings, into lyrics speaking to non-violence and the end of the world. It is heady stuff delivered with a warm, hypnotic vocal that is lush and healing.

On 'The Wildwood', the lyric is “An eye for an eye will leave the world blind.” It seems a scathing critique of the political hubris of today’s modern times. On 'Awaiting Judgment Day', she continues, asking “Can the world be saved?”

Richards describes 'Lucid I Would Dream' as “a conversation with the subconscious and a study in dream interpretation.” The lyric poignantly states “Pull me under/I’ll be okay/Underwater I can breathe.”

'Golden Gate' shares the sharp lyric “staking claim upon higher ground,” the song then flowing into a stinging electric guitar groove. Spoken words follow that speak to eternity, accountability, honour, sense of wonder and magic.

The beautiful poetic imagery of 'Autumn Sun' is lovely and welcome. “From the golden autumn sun, you were there to remind me of the dreams that we had spun.”

The album title track 'Existential Beast' scolds with “Who have we become?/ Marching to the sound of the same old drum.”

'Oh Raven' is melodic and fine if a touch melancholic: “Why must you arrive?/ I was painting in colour.” Richards sings about karma in this life and the duality between dark and light.

On the closer 'Another World', the storyteller sums up the message of the music: “I’m not afraid to speak of the darkness for it must be brought to light.” She speaks of “a crisis in conscience” and “a reign of terror taking over.”

Thankfully, Richards’ entire message is not without a ray of hope. “I see another world,” she sings, “where our words we will honour.” 'Existential Beast' in the end is quite ambitious in its scope. Richards is the just and caring town crier, speaking to the news of the day. It is an important album.

 

 

BEARDED, (August 28, 2017)

Richard Lewis

 

GospelbeacH / Miranda Lee Richards @ Castle Hotel, Manchester, 27.08.17

A double hit of Californian psych/cosmic country acts dazzle a capacity crowd at a sweltering gig in the Northern Quarter

Playing a venue whose origins aptly enough date back to the same birth year as the United States (1776), two of the Golden States’ finest visit the venerable Castle Hotel, Manchester as part of the California Fantasy Tour. A double bill that would have looked entirely at home on classic posters for The Fillmore West in the late sixties, in keeping with the Californian theme, the temperature in the gig space back room of the venerable watering hole is roughly the same as Death Valley, as a sweltered capacity crowd assembles.

San Francisco native Miranda Lee Richards takes to the stage to a packed room and glides effortlessly into “Ashes and Seeds,” the opening song from this year's superb Existential Beast. Dedicated to ‘the fiftieth anniversary of the Summer of Love’ “Golden Gate” is a gorgeous swirl of psychedelic textures that pays homage to the singer’s hometown and the wellspring of the hippie movement.

Moonlighting as Richards’ backing band for the trek, GospelbeacH demonstrate just how strong their playing is, with ‘Beach leader Brent Rademaker underpinning the sound with a succession of McCartney-esque basslines. Lead guitarist Jason Soda is a formidable presence, switching between Daniel Lanois-style ambient slide guitar washes to Chet Atkins-esque country picking which powers a cantering version of “The Wildwood” along in superb style.

Remoulding the detailed arrangements of the album for the stage, a delicate reading of “Lucid I Would Dream” provides the highlight, updating the the spooked psychedelia of Forever Changes era Love. While most of the set is understandably drawn from the recent album, “Colors So Fine” from last year’s Echoes of the Dreamtime shimmers past beautifully. The title track concludes with an impressive showcase of Richards’ voice, as the band fades to her singing the wordless chorus hook acapella.

With the room swelling to sardines capacity, Rademaker moves to the centre of the stage for GospelbeacH’s headline set, somehow managing to keep his Stetson on for the majority of the tracks despite the heat. An excellent, exuberant frontman, the band tout a tougher, grittier energy live than on disc with a foot stomping rendition of country hoe-down “California Steamer” a raucous crowd pleaser. The Tom Petty-esque “Kathleen” and “Already Home possess hooks that firmly embeds itself in the brain while Strange Days has hints of LA noir that The Doors and Jefferson Airplane excelled at.

While both acts are steeped in the classic sounds of their home state neither GospelbeacH or Richards are revivalists, bringing a modern twist to the sun dappled West Coast sound. Gospelbeach’s live set and recent LP Another Summer of Love fizz with power pop verve, while “Out Of My Mind (On Cope and Reed)” from 2015 debut Pacific Surf Line paying homage to the erstwhile leaders of The Teardrop Explodes and The Velvet Underground respectively, the title is a riff on Saint Julian’s own track “Out Of My Mind (On Dope and Speed).”

The set and proceedings overall conclude with the song that gave the tour its name California Fantasy, as Richards returns to the stage to provide backing vocals. A superlative evening, the only complaint is that both sets deserved to run longer, with return trips to this part of the world from both camps hopefully due very soon.

 

 

BEARDED (August 28, 2017)

Richard Lewis

 

The Californian baroque pop/cosmic country singer chats about her new LP Existential Beast and upcoming live dates

Existential Beast, the recently issued fifth album by San Franciscan born singer Miranda Lee Richards continues the songwriter’s updated exploration of the classic Laurel Canyon sound, bringing together chamber pop and gentle psych folk with plush arrangements. A member of legendary US rock psych troupe The Brian Jonestown Massacre in the late 1990s, the LP sonically evokes a long afternoon spent lazing in Californian sun. Set to make a return trip to the UK later this this week, Miranda is on the road with like-minded Golden State natives GospelbeacH.

An opening enquiry about the album then, where did the intriguing title come from? ‘I was playing with words and concepts one day, thinking of how many of the problems in the world are stemming from letting our lower animal selves be in charge. Human beings are essentially beasts struggling with enlightenment, and what separates us from the animal kingdom is our ability to reason. I was thinking of the existential crisis or existential angst that many people feel, and the title, ‘Existential Beast’ was born’.

In tandem with the title, the album sleeve is similarly memorable, vaguely reminiscent of the cover to Kate Bush’s second LP Lionheart (1978). What was the inspiration behind the artwork? ‘I wasn’t thinking of Kate Bush’s cover when I had this concept, but maybe subliminally!’ Miranda replies. ‘The cover photo is of my good friend and backup singer Samantha Smith as a little girl in the 1970s. The lion in the photo was a retired movie cat allowed to take pictures with children at a theme park just outside of Los Angeles. I thought it was the perfect image as there is so much symbolism and metaphor there: the conquering of the beast within or making peace with it, finding connection with the inner child, the resurgence of the lion spirit, an ode to animal rights and our treatment of endangered lions, the list goes on…’

“Another World,” the concluding track on Existential Beast is a lengthy but musically restrained epic that spirals into double figures guided by a simple acoustic strum and woodwind accompaniment. With lyrics including 'California don’t throw yourself to the sea/You were never unwanted', referring to the theory that the State would leave the Union due to you-know-who becoming President, the cut comes across as Joni Mitchell covering one of Bob Dylan’s colossal mid-sixties compositions Desolation Row or Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands. Was the inspiration behind Another World political? ‘Yes, it’s a politically-themed protest song with verses dedicated to the environment, civil rights, animal rights, terrorism, corporate greed, war, and feminism among other issues’ Miranda states. ‘There are fourteen verses and it is nearly twelve minutes in length! I had started writing it before the election, but kept adding to it Post-Election for I found that listening to the news produced inspiration for new verses daily. I still don’t feel that I fit it all in!’

With a tranche of shows acoustic trio completed around Europe earlier in the year, for the return leg Miranda’s is touring as part of a ‘a five piece, bass, drums, electric guitar, acoustic guitar/vocals, and keyboards’. Boasting a plethora of instruments and intertwining harmonies, the arrangements on Existential Beast are beautifully constructed. Given how detailed they are, how has the process of recreating the songs onstage been? ‘For the most part, it has been a fun challenge to perform this album live’ Miranda states. ‘Miraculously, so far we have been able to have a string quartet live on “Autumn Sun” and “Another World” in three different cities (Los Angeles, Bergen, and San Francisco). We don’t play to tape with a computer on stage, but many of the arrangements are possible to re-create with a Mellotron keyboard live (archaic 1960s proto-synth). We also have had a guest flutist, saxophonist, and pedal steel for some of the shows’.

 

Production on the LP was handled by Richards alongside regular collaborator (and husband), storied producer Rick Parker. ‘I love working with Rick!’ Miranda enthuses. ‘We have such a rapport and can finish each other’s sentences musically so to speak. On the subject of new musical discoveries NYC chamber pop brethren Lemon Twigs and Canadian folk duo Kacy & Clayton are cited while recent turntable choices include ‘Weyes Blood, Beach House and Cate Le Bon for the new and Shirley Collins, John Renbourn and Fairport Convention for the old’.‘I was born and raised in California in the mid-1970s, so perhaps that sound is ingrained in me’ Miranda says of Existential Beast’s strong Laurel Canyon influence. ‘Initially, the opening track “Ashes and Seeds” had a very Donovan-like quality, but then we added pedal steel and it took on a more cosmic country feel. In regards to Golden Gate, well, that’s the Summer of Love revisited -- it’s the 50th anniversary after all!'

First breaking into public consciousness through her membership of legendary San Fran psych rock stalwarts The Brian Jonestown Massacre in 1997-99, the singer's tenure in the group was the period chronicled in acclaimed, not to say notorious rockumentary DiG! (2004). A band whose ever fluctuating membership has at times seemed as though a revolving door was fitted to the practice room, several graduates of the Anton Newcombe Academy have gone on to make acclaimed albums outside the group. Does it surprise you so many members/associates of the BJM have gone on to make an impact? ‘When I first saw the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, I was completely blown away, and Sarabeth Tucek is one of my all-time favorite female singers and songwriters’ Miranda replies. ‘I recently sang on Joel Gion and Matt Hollywood’s latest - both great albums. When I heard Joel’s record, who is 'just’ the tambourine player in the BJM, that’s when I first realized he is an artist in his own right'.

'I think as a band that’s what you want, when every musician in the group can release a solo record, perhaps it’s a bit of a personality nightmare too' Miranda states. 'Many members had been in other bands or had other projects prior, and being in the BJM helped them gain exposure, so I think that’s part of it too. I guess you could say Anton has a knack for discovering talent!’

 

 

GOD IS IN THE TV (August 28, 2017)

http://www.godisinthetvzine.co.uk/2017/08/28/gospelbeach-miranda-lee-richards-the-crescent-york-26082017/

Simon Godley

 

 

“...California Fantasy also lends its title to the current tour, a joint-headline affair in which Miranda Lee Richards shares the bill with GospelbeacH. Richards first hove into musical view through her associations with the Brian Jonestown Massacre. She has since gone on to carve out for herself a more than respectable solo career, the last recorded output of which Existential Beast provides all bar one of the songs of her opening set tonight (‘Colours So Fine’ from her previous album Echoes of the Dreamtime being the exquisite exception).

On Existential Beast, Miranda Lee Richards has her creative finger on the wildly fluctuating pulse of the critical and transformative times in which we now live. Against a seductive sonic backdrop of gentle psychedelic indie-folk – riven through with greater muscular heft on ‘The Wildwood’ – she asks if this world of ours can possibly be saved. The jury is still out on that particular question but there remains no doubt about Richards’ artistic talent. Alongside GospelbeacH, her contribution to a quite superb evening of musical entertainment is immense.

 

 

LANCASHIRE TELEGRAPH (August 23, 2017)

Tony Dewhurst

 

WELL known for her enchanting live performances, Miranda Lee Richards was raised in San Francisco. The daughter of two underground comic revolutionaries; Miranda first considered playing music professionally after a chance meeting with Kirk Hammett from Metallica, who taught her to play rock songs on her guitar. Later, she became a catwalk model and joined the band, Brian Jonestown Massacre.

She visits Manchester on Sunday following the release of her folk-rock album Existential Beast.

TD: Your new album is a protest record, examining the issues of our times

MLR: I certainly believe a good protest song must also embody a solution, and speak of injustice from a tender, truthful and compassionate perspective.

TD: The subject matter of Existential Beast is not solely political – many songs are spiritual in nature and refer to the angst of not being fulfilled by modern life.

MLR: These are very uncertain times indeed. But I also see it as a heightened era of manifestation, both good and bad. That’s why it is important to look at what we are focusing on.

For example, the threat of North Korea and a stand-off between two megalomaniac madmen has me quite terrified, but at the same time I can see that more people than ever just want to lead happy, peaceful and productive lives.

TD: Your parents, Ted and Teresa are renowned comic book artists. What was your upbringing like in that environment of constant creativity at home?

MLR: They were both liberal minded, radicals really. They were cartoonists and their original art and content of their comic strips were a platform for self-expression that embodied social and political commentary with a rebellious spirit. Their material was anti-war and that influenced me massively.

As a child, I remember sitting on the porch at home with dad and mum scribbling away and it was just so absorbing to watch. Many illustrations, like great songs, can express magic and wonder.

TD: What are your memories of life in San Francisco?

MLR: I had the opposite of a sheltered upbringing, and that led to a lot of fun and some very unusual experiences. I went to mad grown-up parties with my parents at their comic book publishers, Rip Off Press, where I was often the only kid.

But I also saw the casualties of some lifestyles – and that taking too many drugs can destroy you mentally. But I was jealous of the Summer of Love, when 100,000 young people descended on the Bay, and some pretty amazing stories were told.

The city has changed so much since I grew up there, but just walking through the various neighbourhoods, is always an adventure. Most of all I love the Victorian houses. They have some much beauty and history – you can almost hear the walls speaking.

TD: Who is your favourite musical artist and why?

MLR: John Lennon – I absolutely adore his lyric writing and melodic sense, and he composed some of the most beautiful songs in the world that really touch on the human condition. Shirley Collins is another favourite, for her work on preserving English folk music. I find the beautiful melodies and lyrics to be very poetic.

MLR: You have enjoyed several visits to Britain. What impression has our country made on you?

TD: I’m definitely turning into an Anglophile, at least in terms of my current taste. Audiences in the UK love their live music. They do in America as well, but you have to be a massive artist to make money from touring because the distances are so vast.

I love to take in the rich history, culture, literature and visual beauty of the English countryside whenever I can. The last time I visited a castle in England, an American Instagram follower asked me if I was on a film set.

 

 

ITS ONLY ROCK N ROLL (July 30, 2017)

https://itsonlyrockandroll.info/miranda-lee-richards-existential-beast-2017/

Zorn

 

Miranda Lee Richards’ fourth album, Existential Beast, follows 2016’s Echoes of the Dreamtime by just a year, a quick turnaround for a songwriter who’s gone several years between records in the past. It comes with a lusher presentation, too, edging deeper into psychedelic folk-rock while hanging onto a country influence and her distinctly Laurel Canyon-esque sound. It’s also, at least in part, a protest album, with songs motivated by the 2016 U.S. presidential election, an inherited necessity for activism (“Ashes and Seeds”), and the killing of Cecil the Lion (“The Wildwood”). The title track, which she has said was originally inspired by watching a biopic about Nelson Mandela, gets at the larger question of how to arrive at peace. A slow-drifting rumination, it has organ,gently twangy guitar, piano, and spare drums under Richards’ wispy vocal line. It picks up fuzzier guitar and, later, saxophone in the choruses but never climbs out of hazy contemplation (“And why must there be a wrong before right?/And why must it take so many lives?”). Songs like the ultra-trippy “Golden Gate” and bucolic “Oh Raven” are more concerned with self-improvement, such as learning to trust instincts. The closer, “Another World,” though, returns to protest in an epic way; it’s a 12-minute acoustic folk song that pays tribute to her home state of California while addressing a myriad of American political issues with all of the peace-loving presence of a Judy Collins or Joan Baez.

 

 

FOLKING (August 17. 2017)

Mike Davies

 

A quick follow-up to last year’s Echoes Of The Dreamtime finds the San Franciscan native and erstwhile Brian Jonestown Massacre member in often dreamy cosmic country mood, opening Existential Beast with the pedal steel laced gentleness of ‘Ashes and Seeds’ before getting a little spikier on the urgently flurrying rhythms and driving drums of the echoey sung ‘The Wildwood’ where folk and western colours come together.

It’s one of only two up-tempo numbers, the tranquil mood restored with ‘Lucid I Would Dream’, albeit with darker shadows to its woodwind spooked feel while the gathering sways of ‘Golden Gate’ recall the floaty psychedelic swirls of Laurel Canyon’s more lysergic moments.

Predominantly a capella with layered vocal harmonies, sweetly sung with just a hint of cobwebs, ‘Back To The Source’ is another folk influenced number as is the acoustic fingerpicked ‘Autumn Sun’ which, embellished with strings, brings together the pastoral quality of Nick Drake and the open skies of early Judy Collins.

The title cut is a languid six-minute affair with tasty electric guitar noodling and jazzy-blues solo midway while, by way of distinct contrast, the plucked strings and troubadour guitar styled ‘Oh Raven’ has a strong medieval folk quality and, the second of the more urgent tracks, ‘On The Outside of Heaven’ is a driving 70s rock radio number with circling guitars. It ends in epic form with the near twelve-minute traditional folk ballad styled ‘Another World’, adorned with acoustic guitar and subtle strings, its lyrics fully encapsulating the album’s political concerns about a divided world as its gently flows to its string section play-out. Lovely stuff.

 

 

 

ECHOES AND DUST (August 3, 2017)

Elizabeth Klisiewicz

 

Miranda Lee Richards is a California based psych folk artist who may be best known for her vocal work with Brian Jonestown Massacre. But that does her a disservice, for she is an excellent musician in her own right and certainly doesn’t need to ride the coattails of Anton Newcombe’s musical collective.

On this, her fourth album, Miranda Lee offers us a fine, beautifully rendered piece of work, both delicate and tough where it needs to be, especially when she hits political points. She explains that “In varying degrees, we are all still working with the animal urges of fear, competition, survival, and sexuality that are deep-seated and manifesting in different ways, depending on where people are at. Perhaps a more endearing outlook is to see this as an assignment in working with the inner child, who can at times behave like a wild beast. But like it or not, these tendencies have been revealed, within our leaders, our countries, and ourselves; it is indeed a pivotal and transformational time.”

None of this is necessarily evident when you scratch the surface of this release, which seems to go down like a vanilla milkshake. But after the music settles in your head, you’ll begin to notice the thoughtful lyrics. ‘Ashes and Seeds’ discusses complacency and the chorus reminds us that history repeats and repeats. It’s all riding atop a gentle, steel and acoustic guitar driven melody. Miranda Lee excels in these chambered, alt-country spaces that expand upon the soft psych she revels in. Listen closely to this tune, you’ll see what I mean. ‘The Wildwood’ could be likened to the craziness of DC and the GOP, and its somewhat frenzied pace bears this thought out. The single ‘Lucid I Would Dream’ is a soft, contemplative piece that inhabits the same space that Suzanne Vega once did back in the 80s. Miranda Lee has such a lyrical, expressive voice that shades these tunes like a gentle rain. ‘Golden Gate’ is a love song for the city of Miranda Lee’s birth and it brims over with joy. ‘Back to the Source’ sounds like ancient British folk, and Miranda Lee’s vocals are double tracked on this short tune.

‘Autumn Sun’ revels in the beauty of nature and its pristine production and arrangement suit it perfectly. One of my favorite tunes here! The title track has many divine layers and the warm, organ washes make you want to float away. ‘Oh Raven’ hearkens back to Sandy Denny era Fairport Convention, and exhibits the same craft and attention to detail as those long ago recordings. ‘On the Outside of Heaven’ has a strong, main melody and is my favorite tune on this record. The final selection is ‘Another World’, another tune that reminds me of Suzanne Vega’s debut album. It speaks to the ‘great divide’ in this country, and that we should not be afraid to speak up. At least, that is how I interpret it. In summary, this is a great record, possibly Miranda Lee’s best effort to date, and one you should not miss if you enjoy the sort of music described herein.

 

 

MXDWN.COM (July 18, 2017)

Christine Capozziello

 

Soothe the Savage Beast

Former model and member of San Francisco shoegaze outfit The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Miranda Lee Richards is no stranger to the West Coast music scene. Her work has a featherlight quality to it, ethereal and shimmering like a coastal, psychedelic-laced heatwave. With dreamy vocals in the vein of Mazzy Star — all haze and confection— it’s easy to listen to her words without actually hearing them. Despite the weightless feel, Richards’s fourth studio album, Existential Beast, is grounded in the sobering reality of a polarized modern-day America. Her songs explore not only political disjunction but the opposing forces within ourselves, often between animalistic urges and logic.

Richards doesn’t waste time getting to the point. The album opens with “Ashes and Seeds,” her voice surprisingly reassuring while delivering the lines, “I didn’t make these problems, but by them I’m burdened,” and, “will it make me feel better to sign angry letters?” The song, written pre-election, mirrors the feelings of frustration and helplessness felt by many. It’s a hypnotic, psychedelic call to action straight out of the Woodstock era.

Some songs are buoyed by hope while others, like the album’s lone rocker, “The Wildwood,” ends with the grim conclusion, “The world cannot be saved and no one gets out alive.” “Golden Gate” breaks down into a reverb-drenched guitar solo that yields to Richards’s haunted, echoing vocals, which ask existential questions of the listener: “Is there such thing as integration of heart and mind, conscious and subconscious?” The abstract query, paired with psychedelic instrumentals, would feel campy coming from anyone else, but Richards manages to make it feel genuine and thought-provoking. Songs like “Autumn Sun” and “Oh Raven” hearken back to ’60s songwriter ballads with delicate fingerpicking and pastoral imagery.

The beauty of Existential Beast is its versatility. Depending on one’s mood, it can be a pick-me-up, lullaby or introspective backdrop. It’s the kind of album that demands several listens to fully grasp and offers something new every time. The tracklist is both refreshingly bold and familiar and Richards comes equipped with a voice to sooth the savage (existential) beast inside all of us.

 

 

R2 (ROCK N REEL) August 2017

Chris Carter

 

Following several years in the wilderness, last year’s Echoes of the Dreamtime, marked an accomplished return for Miranda Lee Richards. Whereas that album was a terse collection lasting just eight tracks, however, Existential Beast see Richards stretch her wings to explore the outer limits of psychedelic possibility once again.

A twilight haze lingers thickly over this new offering, courtesy of producer-husband Rick Parker. His smoky sonic groundwork creates a mystical smog that instills the music with an other worldy feel perfectly suited to the subject matter (oh, you know...the cosmic inner child, and all that.)

Truthfully, it’s daisy-chain meanderings never quite hold the attention as forcefully as Echoes...did, and there’s a silly spoken-word section in “Golden Gate” that rather tries the patience. Equally the pervading wistfulness causes focus to drift: too often, to quote “Lucid I Would Dream,” “It’s here and then it’s gone.”

But then, that’s largely the point and if you’re prepared to accompany her on the journey, there are plenty of riches to be unearthed here. Things occasionally get heavy, too: for all its airy-fairy top-line, “The Wildwood” pulses with urgent bass and a racing rhythm that wouldn’t shame her buddies in Metallica.

 

 

MAGNET (August 2017)

Tim Stegall,

 

Ethereal early -70s West Coast country rock from neo-psych chanteuse

Miranda Lee Richards apparently lives in 1971 Laurel Canyon, according to her fourth LP, Existential Beast. Opener “Ashes And Seeds” and other tracks ooze the atmosphere of the L.A. studio-musician country rock that permeated discs such as Linda Ronstadt’s Hasten Down The Wind. The major differences between the original and Richards’ take on the sound are numerous, however.

First her nature and her singing are ethereal, as aerie-faerie as a roomful of Kate Bush records. Bust since she doesn’t have the old 70s L.A. studio mafia in her employ, this music sounds more organic. Plus, the production has a strong modern psychedelia flavor: bashy drums, excessive reverb, the whole nine yards. Ultimately, Richards is at her best when she drops the Ronstadt/Joni Mitchell homages and unleashes her inner marianne Faithfull circa “As Tears Go By,” as on “Oh Raven” or closing acoustic waltz “Another World.” Then her voice’s purity shines.

 

 

MUSIC EXISTENCE (July 18, 2017)

Dan MacIntosh,

 

It may be cliché to note when an apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, but in Miranda Lee Richards’ case, this saying holds true. She’s the daughter of two 70s activist/artist parents (more than likely, hippies), and her latest album (Existential Beast) has many earmarks of a latter-day hippie folk album.

She closes her album with “Another World,” a song imagining a utopian dream. It’s an epic, 11:51 long track, which finds Richards describing our dark contemporary world. It’s also a bit of a warning to her home state, as she advises, “California, don’t throw yourself to the sea.” California plays big in Richards’ mind, as she titles another track “Golden Gate.”

Many of these songs follow a dreamy, ethereal sonic pattern, which can cause the listener to zone out after a while. Richards is at her best whenever she mixes together this dreaminess with a tad more aggression, which she does nicely during “The Wildwood.” There are sections of this track where the electric guitars are amped up Grateful Dead jam style, over soulfully appropriate organ. The song even incorporates spacey, psychedelic elements toward its end. Richards’ angelic voice floats easily over these instrumental notables. Richards also rocks out a bit with the electric guitar-driven “On the Outside of Heaven.”

Both “Another World” and “Oh Raven” feature singing in a distinctly traditional folk manner. The latter has a bit of a Renaissance Faire vibe running through it, as well as a distinctly Simon & Garfunkel “Scarborough Fair” sound driving it.

Many of the lyrics to these songs have an obvious spirituality running through them. These are more along the lines of hipster religiosity, though, than anything close to mainstream religion. It’s as though the political and cultural turmoil we’ve all been thrown into of late have driven Richards toward the heavens for answers.

Rather than solving our world’s problems, Miranda Lee Richards speaking out and hoping for answers. It’s the cry of her heart, and she cries beautifully.

 

 

CARPE DIEM (July 18, 2017)

Known for her distinctive brand of enchanting psychedelic “chamber folk rock,” Miranda Lee Richards continues to evolve and mature as an artist. Her latest long-player, Existential Beast, is provocative in every sense, from the breadth of musical ambition to its politically-driven lyrics.

Though she first gained attention as one of The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s most well-loved vocal collaborators, Richards has always strived for and achieved more as her musical range and vision has grown, garnering consistent industry attention and a loyal fan base along the way. There is an enduring ethereal shimmer to everything she does, but there has always been a more universal poetic and sonic depth as well, something that’s more apparent than ever on her new work.

Existential Beast’s psychological nuance and cultural exploration covers timely and important new ground; in many ways, her upbringing and bohemian background bred her and led her to this current musical moment, inspiring her eclectic and expressive art just when the music world – and the world in general – needs it the most.

 

 

ELMORE MAGAZINE (July 18, 2017)

94/100 - Peter Lindblad,

 

Troubled times like these call for the easy-going, otherworldly psychedelic country/folk of Miranda Lee Richards, although her latest LP, Existential Beast, is hardly an escape from reality. Other drugs, musical or otherwise, might be more effective in easing fear and anxiety over the state of things.

A protest album free of blind, impotent rage, but one that uncomfortably—and intimately—questions just about everything, the singer-songwriter’s fourth solo album doesn’t shy away from difficult subjects such as racism, the environment or gender equality, to name a few. Nor does it hide her own uncertainty, even as the poetic grace and intellect of her evocative lyrics take a calm, but powerful, stand against injustice.

All the while, Richards’ ambitious Existential Beast finds solace in flowing melodies, lush arrangements and instrumentation, and soft harmonies aglow with a pearly luminescence. Used to chaos and confrontation, having survived the bedlam of the Brian Jonestown Massacre early in her career, Richards doesn’t mind getting lost in a laid-back ’70s Laurel Canyon reverie in “Ashes and Seeds.” She emerges from the mists of lovely English folk traditions in “Oh Raven” as a spectral presence, arranges a stunning vocal flight of fancy in “Back to the Source” that would render Fleet Foxes speechless, and, just to show that not everything revolves around politics, Richards wanders the desert in a nocturnal “Lucid I Would Dream” before stumbling upon a secret, peyote-fueled jam between the Grateful Dead and Hawkwind.

More grounded in solid song craftsmanship, “On the Outside of Heaven” offers subdued, relaxed hooks and crisp pacing and “Autumn Sun” features deft finger-picking, whereas the deep, folk sprawl of the epic 12-minute closer “Another World” —practically a study of current affairs—seems to go on forever, like an Appalachian forest. Existential Beast roams freely and never stays in one place too long.

 

THE ARTS DESK (July 13, 2017)

 

Miranda Lee Richards would have made a less plasticized Lana del Rey, if she’d had that sort of team behind her a few years ago. She has that hazy David Lynch-ian thing down but seems more red-blooded and rockin’ than America’s A1 trip hop diva. Her fourth album, which arrives with a 12” x 24” lyric/art insert, has a country music tint, but is equally smeared with a woozy, stoned, singer-songwriter ethos. Her voice is crystal clear, girlish, precise in delivery, and provides an ethereal counterpoint to the tuneful, classy psyche-pop guitar. Here and there are very faint hints of the Cocteau Twins and Miranda Lee Richards’ acknowledged influence, Mazzy Starr. It's likeable drug-tinted space-pop for wafting around dimly lit rooms trailing a hallucinatory swirl of Boho silk scarves.

 

Three Chords And The Truth (June 29, 2017)

 

Although Miranda Lee Richards has had a lengthy association with the music industry to varying degrees of success, the last eighteen months has seen something of a renewal. This has had a particular focus in the UK including a tie up with label Invisible Hands Music and the follow up of intent to back a pair of album releases with overseas trips from her California base. This return to Birmingham had a somewhat low key feel to it, but evidence was rampant to what great music she is producing at the moment. Many of the alluring facets of her recorded material were successfully reproduced in the live environment especially the ethereal feel, beautifully hazy vocals and a three-pronged West Coast wrapped guitar attack.

Miranda led the way making her acoustic playing punch above its weight alongside the majestic electric contribution of her key stringed accomplices Randy Billings and Joe Woolley. The advertised trio morphed into a quartet with the harmony backing vocals of Samantha Lea Smith as Miranda introduced her hour-long set as essentially a showcase for material from the last two albums. There did appear to be a slight bias towards the recently released EXISTENTIAL BEAST, especially as this was likely to be an introductory listen for most folks attending this Ort Café show.

However little time was wasted in sharing the best of last year’s album ECHOES OF THE DREAMTIME with the excellent ‘Tokyo’s Dancing’ taking the prized opening slot and precisely positioning the mood and tone for the set. Generally Miranda kept the background chat to a minimum with only very brief song introductions such as the country sound to ‘It Was Given’ and the trip-inducing qualities of ‘Colours So Fine’.

It didn’t take long into the set to move into the newer material with ‘On the Outside of Heaven’ featuring early on. ‘Lucid I Would Dream’, ‘Autumn Sun’ and title track ‘Existential Beast’ effortlessly transferred the divinity of the record to a quirky venue in the inner city suburb of Balsall Heath, trailing just two tracks, which proved to be highlight of the set. ‘Oh Raven’ was announced as a medieval folk piece and rose like a beacon on the evening. Album opener ‘Ashes and Seeds’ was nearly missed as cut off time approached but it was just squeezed in to the extent of flourishing brightly whilst projecting Miranda as a serious writer of an enticing folk song.

Sadly time constraints probably lent heavily on not playing the eleven minute epic ‘Another World’ that not only closes the new record, but also prompts a transfixed thought mode. While not being sure to the extent that this track generally features live, it presents a brave challenge that in my opinion will come off. Maybe there is also room in a different setting for further insight into the intriguing themes, inspirations and line of thought that apply to her music. This certainly was a gig where the message was predominantly in the music, which fair enough is the fundamental of the art. Miranda finished her set by stating that she will be back later in the summer with a full band in tow. This will inevitably add a further dimension to the sound, but on a pre-gig assumption that this event would be on a more acoustic footing, the bar was raised to a pretty high level for subsequent shows to better.

In line with the promoter’s motivation to provide a platform for local independent artists, two solo performers were granted half hour support slots to support Miranda. Each focussed on a different strand of music, with Stourbridge-based Ryan Sparrow more proactive in promoting his innovative acoustic style than the fluctuating electric vibes of a guitarist billed under the name My Autumn Empire who followed.

Engaging with the music of Miranda Lee Richards over the last eighteen months has been an adorable delight and this first time seeing her live went a lengthy way to exceeding expectation. If you’re seeking an artist capable of making seductive and encapsulating music wrapped in a warm blanket of indie folk and West Coast jangly rock, then look no further. While we wait for a UK return, there is ample space for EXISTENTIAL BEAST to prosper and ECHOES IN THE DREAMTIME to have reinvigorated second phase.

 

 

Half-Life Music (June 29, 2017)

 

Hot on the heels of last year’s excellent Echoes Of The Dreamtime comes Miranda Lee Richards’ wonderful new release, Existential Beast. She describes it as “a political album that takes a personal tack”. “We are all still working”, she says, “within those animal urges of fear, competition, survival and sexuality which are [deep-seated] and manifesting in varying ways and degrees”. But like it or not, she continues, “these tendencies have been revealed, within our leaders, our countries and ourselves; it is indeed a pivotal and transformational time and there is much work to be done”. The personal may often be the political, but with Existential Beast the political seems more like the personal. There are a couple of more-or-less direct statements, “What about non-violence? Is that still in fashion?”, but you could be forgiven for thinking that Miranda Lee Richards is more concerned with the sound than the fury. For this is an album that’s full of gorgeous songs rather than empty slogans. There’s a mix of trippy Californian guitar (‘Golden Gate’), twangy Nashville pedal steel (‘Ashes And Seed’), and folky forest pizzicato (‘Oh Raven’). The most ambitious track, though, is the 12-minute closer, ‘Another World’. Backed by a bucolic mixture of oboe, flute, cello, and more, this is where the worldly meets the otherworldly. There are clear references to recent events, “Well I see another world, Where we would march together, Our voices ringing in the street, The Stars and Stripes of unity, California don’t throw yourself to the sea, For the ballot was cast in your favour”. Yet, there are also moments of hope and even ecstasy, “Well I see Another World, Where we eat flowers for dinner, And we drink water from the spring, Elevating our hearts and our bodies”. Think Neil Young and ‘Natural Beauty’ and the spirit is the same. With its Narnia-like cover, Existential Beast is at once a modern-day political parable and a far-away fairy story. And that’s quite a combination.

 

 

PLUNGER (June 24, 2017)

 

Glasto? Plunger prefer HighburyandIslingto…

… if you were looking for proper summer festival music you should have been at Thousand Island, not Worthy Farm.

Miranda Lee Richards brought the shimmering Californian heat to North London with an entrancing set from her last two albums Existential Beast and Echoes Of The Dreamtime. With scaled-down resources (Randy Billings on a Tele and Joe Woolley on a semi, and Samantha Smith on harmony vocals and shaker) the arrangements were sparer but still invoked the same rapt reverie in those who attended.

From the more straightforward, like the upbeat Peter Paul and Mary-meets-Ralph McTell folk of “Tokyo’s Dancing” or the deceptively simple, breezy homespun Nashesque “Autumn Sun,” to hypnotic Byrds-cum-Grateful Dead psychedelia in “Lucid I Would Dream” with its dense finger-picked guitar textures, jaunty whistled melody and sublime descending vocal harmonies.

There were more spacey vibes in the jangly, trippy “Colours So Fine,” Miranda’s limpid voice intertwining with very Jerry-toned noodly Telecaster lines and the complex-yet-relaxed CSN-era Stills-style “Existential Beast,” conjuring a Gulf-Coast-sun-and-quaalude haze with mellow seductive vocals and soaring wordless harmonies.

Late-Mac flavours ran through the floaty Stevie Nicks boho folk of “Ashes And Seeds,” with dreamy crystal vox and twangsome tele, while a Knopfler-via-Buckingham riff lent a darker mood to on the outside of heaven, Miranda alternating a sinister verse with an ethereal vibrato chorus. A new song  (which Plunger failed to catch the name of… D’oh!) destined for the next album blended both the Nicks and Byrds strands with an Eaglesy easy-going bustle.

Plunger’s particular favourite was “Oh Raven,” a very trad folk-sound given a lysergic wash (think “Scarborough Fair” reworked by David Crosby!) Complex finger-picking and intricate harmonies creating a music-box waltz closing with spine-tingling minor to major shifts.

The ideal stuff for basking in a field in the late evening sun… even in the overly air-conditioned foil-lined sandwich box formerly less-glamorously known as Upstairs At The Garage. And not a Cath Kidston welly-wearer or Boden Trustafarian in sight…

 

 

SALUTE (June 20, 2017)

Lyndsey Stangl

 

Miranda Lee Richards Gets Political on 12 Minute Epic

Los Angeles based singer-songwriter Miranda Lee Richards dropped her newest album Existential Beast. With it one of the most beautiful and politically charged songs of the year. While the album itself is fantastic, “Another World” is definitely worth looking into on its own.

“Another World” is an amazing, twelve minute song that carries some serious weight, despite its lovely, calming melody. Originally a Shirley Collins-inspired A Capella Medieval protest song, the track quickly evolved into something far grander than even Richards initially planned.

While it may sound light at first, Richards’s enchanting vocals sits in harmony with the charming woodwind section that accompanies her. The lyrics tackle a wide variety of political issues present in today’s post-election environment. One verse in the song contains the phrase ‘in God we can no longer trust,’ altering the official motto of the United States to express the deterioration of the American dream.

Playing a game of follow the leader, back and forth between the extremes” references the two-party system, and how its conflicting and rigid nature leaves little room for compromise and expansion of thought.

One of the most hard-hitting verses comes near the song’s end.

“And we honor the elders

Animal spirits and masters

By filling pipelines with sand

Diverting our wells with their tears of mourning

This land is not your land”

Not only does this acknowledge the environmental issues being faced today with oil pipelines popping up left and right, it also acknowledges a cold, hard truth that many prefer to turn a blind eye to. This land was taken in less than pleasant ways, and that reminder in itself throws the whole concept of the American dream back into question.

Instead Richards presents her own version of said dream, one where there is love and acceptance, the earth is cared for and harmony reigns.

 

 

FATEA (June 19, 2017)

Adam Jenkins

 

The fourth studio album from Richards is something of a rarity, a political album that never ceases to be inclusive, tackling taboo subjects with poetry and sincerity. It also represents a swift follow up to the acclaimed 2016 release Echoes Of The Dreamtime, after a 7 year and 8 year gap between her first and third records. The title is a mixture of society's current existential crisis, and the beast is the symbol of our lower animal instincts.

It opens with “Ashes And Seeds”, which is a 70s infused country track with a very relevant message for today; history repeats and repeats. It's a gentle and poetic song, but with a darker vein that appears to grow the more you listen to it. It's a strong opening and one of the highlights. While most of the record continues in this gentle, dreamy and almost languid mould, there are a couple of more up tempo tracks; “The Wildwood” and “On The Outside Of Heaven.” The latter in particular is a fabulous slice of 70s rock with just a hint of Sheryl Crow.

“Lucid I Would Dream” has garnered a fair amount of attention, and it's easy to see why. Lauren Laverne picked it as "headphone moment" on her BBC 6 Music show earlier in the year. It's hard to disagree. It's the kind of track you can crank the volume up on, lie back, and allow the melody to embrace you and carry off somewhere beautiful.

There are other songs of divine beauty to be found to be found throughout - “Autumn Sun” with its haunting strings, as well as “Back To The Source” and “Oh Raven” with their classical folk sound. The title track itself is ethereal and melancholic, and perfectly encapsulates the themes of the record. It ends with “Another World,” perhaps the most overtly political song, which undulates softly along for almost 12 minutes.

Richards is clearly enjoying something of a purple patch in her solo career, and if this is the result, long may it continue.

 

 

ALL ACCESS MUSIC (June 16, 2017)

Jim Villanueva

 

Beasts And Burdens: Miranda Lee Richards Tackles Tough Topics on Existential Beast

“You’re gonna ask me the hard questions in this one.” Following a brief chuckle, that’s what Miranda Lee Richards said before answering the third of my many questions during our recent nearly 30-minute conversation exploring the breadth and depth of her fourth album Existential Beast, out June 16. The San Francisco-born singer-songwriter is quick to make the distinction that this ten track collection is “politically-driven,” but not – as so many have assumed – inspired by the 2016 presidential election.

That said, Richards doesn’t pull any political punches, though several are delivered with sonic kid gloves. After all, Richards’ sound has been described by some as “spacey, harmony-laden pop” (LA Weekly) and “warm and precise, ethereal” (BuzzBands.LA). I find it’s always best to let the artist and listener decide.

JV: Hi, Miranda, how are you?

Good. Very well.

JV: Thank you for calling and thank you for your time today. Let me kick off the conversation by saying that I went back into my interview archives and was reminded that we last spoke back in December of 2008, so it’s good to talk to you again. So, in our previous conversation you described your then-current album Light of X as “psychedelic chamber folk rock.” What four words would you use to describe Existential Beast?

I would go with the same. It’s psychedelic chamber folk. How’s that?

JV: Okay. So, we’ve shaved off the “rock,” or what (laughs)?

Well, I shouldn’t, actually, because this record is a lot more rockin’ than the other. Yeah, let’s add the rock back in there.

JV: (Laughs) Okay, cool! So, I wanna start exploring this album by going straight to the end and ask you about the nearly 12-minute opus “Another World,” in which you sing, “But I’m not afraid to speak of the darkness/for it has been brought to light.” What, or who, is this darkness that you speak of?

Well, just the issues that we’re facing in our time, even regardless of who is president. There have been many things on the table in the last 50 years – even the last 100 years – that are still on the table. And so, I felt like we were in an age of a bit more passivity, if you will, and our passiveness in our culture, and I feel like this election really brought out an age of activism again, and it revealed the underbelly, if you will, on a lot of issues. I feel like as disturbing as that is for some, or terrifying, or all these things, it’s really a blessing because at least we can begin to really have the conversation fearlessly and begin to find solutions.

JV: Quoting another lyric line here: “Robber barons and plunderers who take no prisoners, the jest is now upon us/We bow our heads, by fools we are led/Apathy’s consequence.”

(Laughs)!

JV: I think you addressed some of this in your previous answer, but how long after November 8, 2016 did you write this line?

(Laughs)! You’re gonna ask me the hard questions in this one. So, those lines and that verse were one of the few verses dedicated to the post-election climate. I felt as though we had kinda been complacent. As I sort of said before there was a complacency. We just assumed that things would be continuing on as they were – the status quo – but there were a lot of people who wanted to see that change, and I think it caught the rest of everyone else off guard. And I felt like it was just a reflection on the intention of leaders on both sides of the fence here, that the leaders seem to be out of touch with the heart of many of these issues. And so it just felt like going back to that every man out for himself mentality, and I tapped into that and thought I’d dedicate some air time to that in the song.

JV: Those are all important issues, and there’s a lot to chew on throughout this record. Let me jump to the top of the tracklist and ask you about “Ashes and Seeds.” The song packs an equally powerful punch as “Another World,” but does so in about one-quarter of the time.

(Laughs)!

JV: It clocks in at about three minutes. Tell me a bit about this one.

MLR: So, “Ashes and Seeds” was written pre-election, actually, as most of the songs on the album were. Again, I was reflecting on the issues of our time. So, in that song in particular I was sort of consoling myself and asking how – in speaking of complacency – how involved should I be getting? How big is my role in some of these political issues that we’re facing? And environmental issues and social issues and humanitarian issues and all the other things going on in the world? And how can I help, and am I called to help and what’s my role here? Because otherwise I can get swept up in the problem and in the news, and the world can seem like a scary place, or that it’s not going in the right direction. And so, I was reflecting on that in “Ashes and Seeds.”

JV: The line that jumped out at me was, “Some subjects I should never dwell/How do I keep from falling in the well.” Can you dissect that for me? What are some subjects that you think you should never dwell on?

MLR: Well, in general I think as human beings and as individuals there are multiple subjects that can be negatively-tinged for us. And that can involve a personal level or even on a global level. Not only are there political matters that upset us and that there’s nothing we can do about, but there are also personal matters that upset us that don’t necessarily need our attention because it makes them worse by focusing on them. Some things have the ability to resolve themselves. But really you need to focus on yourself first. It begins with yourself. Let that be the starting point for change.

JV: I’m reminded of the great Michael Jackson song “Man in the Mirror.”

MLR: Sure. So, other people have written about this before (laughs)? I actually was playing with a mirror line at one point because what’s going on in society at large is a reflection of what’s going on with us individually, too. It’s the micro affecting the macro. If I can take care of myself in this world, if I can do what I can, when I’m able to, and be a good person, that’s a huge starting point.

JV: Let’s pick up the tempo, musically, on the record. You were born and raised in San Francisco and that musical mecca’s psychedelic rock sound certainly forms the foundation for the song “Golden Gate.” Is this, in fact, a sonic love letter to “The City?”

MLR: Surely. We’re coming up on the anniversary of the “Summer of Love,” also. I guess I wasn’t completely conscious of that at the time, but maybe that was in the ether somehow. There’s just so much of an ode to the legacy of psychedelic music coming out of San Francisco, and the Golden Gate (Bridge) being the iconic landmark of the city. And then of course the symbolism of it being a bridge to another world or a different era or a new paradigm or a new dimension of reality, and so forth. So, there’s always a lot of imagery that burns in my mind, too, just from growing up there. Yeah, it’s giving an ode to the freedom of the 60s and the calling that people felt at that time, that is a bit reflected in our current time of wanting change and doing a lot of spiritual work and personal work to bring about that change. That city has a lot of magic!

JV: I’d like to get your thoughts on what many people believe is the changing vibe of San Francisco. Tech certainly seems to be taking over the city, with million dollar condos supplanting longtime residents, etc. In your experience, is the vibe changing? Do you feel it?

MLR: Oh, sure! The city is a very different place now, but it’s amazing how much of it remains, though. You can try and change a place. but I guess its essence will always remain. There’s still that feeling that it was mecca. San Francisco was a mecca that drew people that were looking for freedom in their lives in terms of expressing their sexual orientation and their radical ideas, or their radical political ideas. And of course the Summer of Love. So, I think there’s almost a modern-day gold rush happening with the tech industry’s trillions of dollars.

JV: That’s a great way to put it – a modern-day gold rush. You’ve got a slew of U.K. and other European tour dates starting June 17, and sandwiched in between five West Coast dates, starting July 15 in San Francisco. What can fans expect to see and hear at those shows?

MLR: Our regular band is a seven piece – sometimes an eight piece, depending on who can come. So, there are quite a few members onstage. We do recreate the album live. We don’t use a laptop on stage…

JV: Yay! Sorry, a brief editorial there (laughs).

MLR: (Laughs) We’re old school in that way, so we’re playing everything live. So, it’s not just a regular bass, drums and guitar rock band. So, hopefully it’s fun to see.

JV: Final question for you: I wanted to ask you about the title track to Existential Beast. In one verse you ask, “So why must there be black and white? And why must there be dark before light?” It’s no secret that there are a lot of messages – and you dig deep into a lot of subjects – across the entire album. So, amid the current state of, well, maybe darkness and division that we find ourselves in, where do you see the light shining through?

MLR: Hmm. It’s interesting because in the rest of that verse it says, “Why must there be wrong before right?” and “Why must it take so many lives?” It’s an existential question as to why we have to make these mistakes first before we arrive at the greater truth. Like why is there such pain in our evolution? Sometimes I just wish that we could move a little quicker, cuz some things seem to still be on the table from the beginning, you know (laughs)!

JV: Or at least let’s not move backward.

MLR: Right! At least let’s not go backward! And sometimes it seems that it’s just painfully slow. But anyway, we just have to have lots of patience. As long as we don’t blow ourselves up – whatever we gotta do (laughs)!

JV: Yes, let’s try and avoid that!

MLR: Right, right! Let’s avoid that!

Well, congratulations on this record. I think it’s one of those that sonically lends itself to the listener turning the lights down and lighting a candle and taking it all in.

MLR: Yeah, so dim the lights and grab a beverage of your choice!

JV: Sounds great! So, is there anything else that you wanna bring up that we haven’t discussed here?

It seems pretty good. I hope I didn’t say anything offensive. In talking about politics, I feel like even though this is a politically-tinged record, it’s in essence more about examining the issues of our time from the vantage point that’s looking for resolution. Again, many of the songs were written pre-election. This is stuff that’s been going on for a long time, but I just felt that now was the time to talk about it. And there’s other things on the record, too, that are just beautiful sonically and it’s just meant to be inspiring in that way. We still need beautiful art and music and entertainment and thought-provoking conversation in our lives. And on that note, thank you so much.

JV: On that note, thank you so much for your time. It was great to talk to you again. Take care.

MLR: Okay, have a good one. Bye.

 

 

THREE CHORDS AND THE TRUTH (June 15, 2017)

 

The curiosity starts with the album cover, carries on with the title and never really leaves the listener throughout the duration of the journey Miranda Lee Richards takes you on. What EXISTENTIAL BEAST does do is continue a rich vein of form which accelerated with the release of her previous album ECHOES OF THE DREAMTIME around eighteen months ago. An ethereal feel still underpins the sound, but the new record possesses greater nuances and creates a lot more thought provoking moments for the listener to consider.

One advantage this album has is the ability to let its mood swings do the thinking, thus meaning enjoying it in a semi-listening mode capacity can be as fruitful as savouring every intricacy. There are aspects of this record where rules are put to one side and frequently the sound bounces between the acute alternative and the fairly conventional. Miranda slips into electrified indie mode quite early in the album best exemplified by “The Wildwood”; a racing track full of swirling guitars and a heavy drum beat. However just when you think that this is likely to be the defining sound, the heart of the record adopts a very folky feel, most prominently felt in the stripped back acoustic piece “Autumn Sun”, complete with beautiful vocals and violin.

Probably the bravest move on the record is the decision to close it with an eleven minute song, best described as the moment where Miranda decided to pull all the previous musings together and summarise her feelings. “Another World” takes the writing in a more literal direction away from the extremely organic themes in the earlier tracks – exposed in titles such as “Ashes and Seeds” and “Back to Source”. The closing track is very lyric laden, quite mono in reception, but has a captivating and intense appeal that keeps you hooked in, especially required when you reach the 7th, 8th and 9th minute of this epic acoustic piece.

The title track “Existential Beast” takes a pivotal position on the record, edging more into folk territory and successful in creating pondering thoughts through lines such as ‘why must light follow dark’- oh the escapist elements of music. If you’re looking for a strapline for this album: exploring the primal instinct to survive makes a strong case.

The album is awash with West Coast subtleties which reflect Miranda’s San Francisco home and upbringing. Occasionally the sound drifts a little into psychedelic waters and gets to its most experimental point in the climax of “Golden Gate” where ramped up guitars and muffled vocals close out the song. In another style swing, Miranda follows the folk core to her record with a return to an indie rock feel especially prevalent in the opening bars of penultimate song “On the Outside of Heaven”.

EXISTENTIAL BEAST is an album full of simplistic complexities and consistently retains a hint of curiosity that ensures you don’t want to let it go. Give the music of Miranda Lee Richards a chance and the guarantee is that you will at least find parts that will appeal. All the better if the whole album intoxicates you and after grasping this release, odds are shortening that many will fall into this category.

 

Indie London (June 14, 2017)

 

MIRANDA LEE RICHARDS – THE WILDWOOD: The Brian Jonestown Massacre collaborator Miranda Lee Richards releases new electronic-psychedelic track, “The Wildwood,” from her upcoming album, Existential Beast (out on June 16 on Invisible Hands Music). Built around some driving electronics, and a psychedelic vocal, this is another song that’s steeped in classic songwriting values, combining some psychedelic, head-spinning elements with a trippy sense of the epic. Richards’ vocals also carry something of a PJ Harvey vibe about them, which makes them just as potent and worth hearing. But the accompanying instrumentals create a heady backdrop that lend the track real staying power. The mid-track guitar solo is particularly thrilling. Existential Beast is described as a political album, examining the issues of our time, but with the intent of tackling these difficult and sometimes taboo subjects in a poetic and heartfelt manner. The title is also a mash-up of terms, referencing the existential crisis that has in turn arisen. Says Richards: “In varying degrees, we are all still working with the animal urges of fear, competition, survival, and sexuality that are deep-seated and manifesting in different ways, depending on where people are at. Perhaps a more endearing outlook is to see this as an assignment in working with the inner child, who can at times behave like a wild beast. But like it or not, these tendencies have been revealed, within our leaders, our countries, and ourselves; it is indeed a pivotal and transformational time.”

 

 

GLASSWERK (June 14, 2017)

Gordon Johnson

 

Miranda Lee Richards’ fifth full length album is an interesting take on the post US election landscape. As the title suggests it depicts a society struggling to adapt, and it does so in songs filled with typically poetic lyrics. Musically, the album has a psychedelic sound with elements of folk and country mixed in to give it a real retro 70s feel.

This is a varied album though, and the differing musical approaches sit across the album’s best tracks. The near six minute long title track is mainly slow and atmospheric, but is broken up by vocal bursts and some nice guitar flourishes. “Lucid I Would Dream”, described by Richards as a conversation with her subconscious, is slow in pace and the strings backing the vocals invoke the contemplative nature of the lyrics very well.

There are several good folk inspired songs. “Back To The Source” sounds like an old style Californian folk song while “Autumn Sun” with its finger picked guitar evokes numerous Sixties and Seventies female singer songwriters in a gentle ballad. The slow “Oh Raven” sounds more like a traditional English folk song.

There are also two more up tempo songs, which both work well. “The Wildwood” has a different sound to much of the album, with a Western feel and an insistent drum beat giving a fast pace. The guitar work here is very good here too. “On The Outside of Heaven” is like 1970s Californian radio rock brought up to date, with a fine vocal performance.

The closing folk sounding “Another World” brings the album full circle, coming back to that beast. But here Richards shows that there is an alternative to conflict, a world where people come together to co-operate and find solutions. The 12 minute track is perhaps a little overlong, although its sweeping scope is large and the vision of a Californian utopia it constructs is compelling.

This is a mainly gentle sounding album with a powerful message. Its dreamy and atmospheric sound is livened by occasional bursts of guitar and pedal steel, backing Richards’ smooth and wistful vocals. It’s not the most instantly accessible album, perhaps taking a few listens before the full impact comes through. But it is definitely worth taking the time to get to know.

 

 

THE ALTERNATE ROOT (June 13, 2017)

 

Rhythms roll and loop as Miranda Lee Richards marches into “Ashes and Seeds”, the opening track Existential Beast, her recent release. The track opens the album with the theme of questions and answers that cascades throughout Existential Beast, the words of Miranda Lee Richards playing tag with Folk based melodies that chug on psychedelic rock’n’roll strums (“Golden Gate”), utter quiet breaths of medieval minstrel music (“Another World”), and gather voices together to leapfrog in ritualistic chants (“Back to the Source”). Miranda Lee Richards creates a quilt with the soundscapes of her branded enchanted chamber folk rock to expose the beauty within Existential Beast.

The early life of Miranda Lee Richards established her as the lead character of her own rock’n’roll fairy tale. The daughter of two underground comic revolutionaries (Ted and Terre Richards), the San Francisco native learned guitar at age eighteen, taught the tunes of Mazzy Star by Metallica’s Kirk Hammett, before becoming a vocal contributor to the musical collective Brian Jonestown Massacre. Moving to Los Angeles with the band, Miranda Lee Richards built a career with a roller coaster ride of successes and non-self- imposed hiatuses in the music business that spanned the distance between performing at open mic nights and signings with major record labels (Virgin, Nettwerk). Existential Beast confidently continues to establish her own distinctive stamp on the sound of music. With the whispered vocals, the storyline of the title track makes inquiries on the course of human existence with observations surrounded snippets of sound that seem to float by on dreams. Miranda Lee Richards finds a feathered companion in the delicate string plucks of “Oh Raven”, makes her way through the tangled guitar ramblings of “The Wildwood”, and drifts on waves of rhythm as “Lucid I Would Dream” trips on the demand of rigid beats while Existential Beast finds itself “On the Outside of Heaven” on jangled rock’n’roll as it wakes to dappled notes that rise on the lightly tugged and strummed cadence in “Autumn Sun”.

 

 

FOLKING.COM (June 4, 2017)

Mike Davies

 

A quick follow-up to last year’s Echoes Of The Dreamtime finds the San Franciscan native and erstwhile Brian Jonestown Massacre member in often dreamy cosmic country mood, opening Existential Beast with the pedal steel laced gentleness of ‘Ashes and Seeds’ before getting a little spikier on the urgently flurrying rhythms and driving drums of the echoey sung ‘The Wildwood’ where folk and western colours come together.

It’s one of only two up-tempo numbers, the tranquil mood restored with ‘Lucid I Would Dream’, albeit with darker shadows to its woodwind spooked feel while the gathering sways of ‘Golden Gate’ recall the floaty psychedelic swirls of Laurel Canyon’s more lysergic moments.

Predominantly a capella with layered vocal harmonies, sweetly sung with just a hint of cobwebs, ‘Back To The Source’ is another folk influenced number as is the acoustic fingerpicked ‘Autumn Sun’ which, embellished with strings, brings together the pastoral quality of Nick Drake and the open skies of early Judy Collins.

The title cut is a languid six-minute affair with tasty electric guitar noodling and jazzy-blues solo midway while, by way of distinct contrast, the plucked strings and troubadour guitar styled ‘Oh Raven’ has a strong medieval folk quality and, the second of the more urgent tracks, ‘On The Outside of Heaven’ is a driving 70s rock radio number with circling guitars. It ends in epic form with the near twelve-minute traditional folk ballad styled ‘Another World’, adorned with acoustic guitar and subtle strings, its lyrics fully encapsulating the album’s political concerns about a divided world as its gently flows to its string section play-out. Lovely stuff.

 

 

BEARDED (June 2, 2017)

Richard Lewis

 

A member of The Brian Jonestown Massacre during the late Nineties, San Franciscan singer-songwriter Miranda Lee Richards returns with her fifth solo LP Existential Beast, gorgeously poised baroque pop imbued with Laurel Canyon mellowness and hints of Byrd-sian cosmic country.

Co-produced like its predecessor by Richards with her husband Rick Parker, the ten tracks are sumptuously arranged, the string and brass accompaniments complementing the songs’ beautifully. With a cover possibly inspired by The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (or a riff on Kate Bush’s Lionheart?) the gentle pull of opener ‘Ashes and Seeds’ sets the scene for the LPs reflective mood.

The descending melody of the wonderful ‘Lucid I Would Dream’ is reminiscent of John Barry’s Midnight Cowboy theme crossed with the spooked vibe of Love classic ‘The Red Telephone.’ Elsewhere ‘Golden Gate’ sashays along like a cut from The Notorious Byrd Brothers sung by Joni Mitchell.

‘The Wildwood’ is the sole occasion the tempo rises, a Western inspired cut that nimbly gallops along replete with a spiralling guitar solo supplied by fellow BJM alumnus Christof Certik. Two folk influenced cuts placed back to back, ‘Back to the Source’ comprising of layered vocal harmonies and acoustic strum and ‘’Autumn Sun’ aided by a string section are both gems, the latter evoking Nick Drake’s Bryter Layter. ‘Oh Raven’ comes across like a medieval folk incantation while ‘On the Outside of Heaven ‘is sterling 1970s Californian radio rock.

Lengthy closer ‘Another World’ in its structure if not musically evokes another eleven-minute epic, Bob Dylan’s colossal ‘Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands.’ While not as hypnotic as one of Mr. Zimmerman’s greatest compositions, the present track maintains interest until the run out groove, as a string section gently draws a line under a quietly impressive set.

 

 

DAILY COUNTRY (April 27. 2017)

Harriet

 

http://plungermusic.tumblr.com/post/159919858911/well-its-an-unlikely-combination-and-plunger(April 25, 2017)

Well, it’s an unlikely combination…

… and Plunger doesn’t mean the pair on the cover. Miranda Lee Richards’ Existential Beast is a crazed magpie’s pick’n’mix selection of what’s interesting, or different, or just attention-grabbingly shiny, sometimes within the one song. And it works.

It all begins innocently enough with the mid-paced Laurel Canyon country of ‘Ashes And Seeds,’ with liquid vocal, pedal steel and noodly understated guitar very much in keeping with Miranda’s Californian home, although the splash of Mellotron hints at the surprises to come.

And they come right away in ‘The Wildwood:’ a relentless beat, chugging guitars and ecstatic vox are reminiscent of a Sonja Kristina or Jade Williams mystical rite, with unexpected melodic progressions and time shifts compounded by trippy synth and tubular bells. ‘Lucid I Would Dream’ mashes the two strands into one, with Miranda’s crystal voice and the return of the pedal steel blended with mellotron, synth flute and military snare for a Carnaby Street birth-of-psychedelia vibe.

There are strands of British whimsy elsewhere too: ‘Oh Raven’ has that quintessentially English bucolic prog feel of Genesis, Camel (and even Kate Bush) with its quirky musical box pizzicato strings and high glockenspiel accents; while the deceptively simple neo-folk of ‘Back To The Source’ evokes Maddy Prior-joins-Crosby Stills & Nash, its simple acoustic guitar backing enlivened with lush, multi-layered vocals assembled into unusual harmonies and reaching freakishly high peaks.

CSN come to Plunger’s mind again in the simple finger-picked homespun Nashery of ‘Autumn Sun,’ and the lazy, hazy Baja-sunshine-and-Quaalude mellowness of the title track, with gritty guitar swells, swirly Hammond and sax adding to the 70s polish before a spine tingling near-a cappella multi-part choir and organ close; while ‘On The Outside Of Heaven’ evokes an equally-sunny-but-sinister LA atmosphere, with a Buckingham/Nicks rockier groove.

Heading all the way out into left field is ‘Golden Gate,’ an ethereal swirling Dervish ¾ psychedelic lope, part Beatles-meets-Byrds, part-Curved Air-meets-Airplane, its mesmeric repeated guitar phrase embellished with insistent Grateful Dead bass line and Hawkwindesque swooping synth culminating in a trippy freeform wig out.

Completing the 70s homage is the closing track ‘Another World,’ an epic Crosby/Joniesque political and environmental lament with initially just simple guitar and fairground pipe organ to back Miranda’s limpid voice: this is augmented steadily by plaintive harmony recorders for a reprise of the rustic prog theme, then sax in increasingly complex interweaving phrases, before a lone cello then a full string trio join for a rhapsodic finale topped with a sonorous Górecki-style string-only coda to end the spellbinding 12-minute magnum opus.

Existential Beast’s kaleidoscopic, constantly-changing moods and colours are surprising, intriguing and captivating: this is a truly fantastic collection of songs.

Los Angeles-based Miranda Lee Richards will release her fourth full-length album, Existential Beast, June 16 via Invisible Hands Music.  To this project, as well as to her previous releases, Richards brings her substantive, poetic lyrics together with a psychedelic, folk-tinged country sound (reminiscent of Los Angeles-based, early 1970s band Spirit) to deliver a powerful look at today’s post-election political climate.

In the title, Existential Beast, the singer-songwriter has skillfully conveyed the premise of the album. No matter on which end of the political spectrum we may fall, most of us are grappling with the beasts within that emerge and  influence the way we deal with instincts of fear, dread, survival and competition. It has been argued that fairy tales, rife with beasts, serve the purpose of helping children cope with these instincts so you can think of Richards’ latest as a fairy tale for adults.

‘Ashes And Seeds’ is the first track and serves as a thoughtful reminder that history is constantly repeating and that conflict is essential to positive change. The smooth sounds of pedal steel highlight Richards’ laid back, fluid vocals. ‘Lucid I Would Dream’ evokes the dream-like state with the effective use of strings and Mellotron while lyrically imagining that with clarity, fears would diminish. The title track brings a slight R&B vibe into the mix and poses that the time for complacency is over.

Existential Beast closes, as it begins, with hope in the ethereal, string-laden and aptly- titled ‘Another World.” It is epic in length (over 12 minutes) and in breadth with its uplifting call to contribute to solutions. "Well I see another world/Where we invite the enemy for dinner/And we learn to draw new boundaries/Exploring new territories/California don’t throw yourself to the sea/You were part of a bigger picture."

Though certainly a collection of politically charged songs, to define the album solely as such would be limiting.  There is much to discover in the beauty of the vocals, the poetry in the lyrics and the uniqueness of the production found in Existential Beast. Visit her website at www.mirandaleerichards.com to learn more about this accomplished artist

 

BUZZBANDS.LA

 

KEVIN BRONSON on March 31st, 2017

 

Miranda Lee Richards

Barely a year after her strong return from a seven-year layoff, Miranda Lee Richards has announced she will release her fourth album, “Existential Beast,” on June 16. Should there be a trigger alert for any album with the word “existential” in the title? Probably. But Richards has a way of making such contemplations a rich, lustrous experience. Like her 2016 psychedelic folk gem “Echoes of the Dreamtime,” the new album was produced by Richards’ husband Rick Parker (Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, among others). As aural experiences go, it’s wraparound sound, warm and precise, ethereal when the songwriter’s text calls for it. (It’s not available yet, but the track “Golden Gate” almost single-handedly tries to start a new Summer of Love.)

Richards says the new work is a political album that takes a personal tack. “In essence, we are all still working within those animal urges of fear, competition, survival and sexuality which are [deep-seated] and manifesting in varying ways and degrees for different individuals, depending on where they are at,” she says. “But like it or not, these tendencies have been revealed, within our leaders, our countries and ourselves; it is indeed a pivotal and transformational time and there is much work to be done.” As for the first single “Lucid I Would Dream,” she says it’s “a conversation with the subconscious and a study in dream interpretation. I have recurring dreams about being able to breathe underwater, and this apparently, is about being able to master complex emotional realms.”

 

 

MIRANDA LEE RICHARDS CHANNELS ‘EXISTENTIAL BEAST’ WITH NEW ALBUM

 

MARCH 29, 2017 BY GREG SRISAVASDI

 

Singer-songwriter Miranda Lee Richards releases her next album Existential Beast June 16 via Invisible Hands Music. Yahoo! had the exclusive premiere of her first single “Lucid I Would Dream,” but there’s more to Richards than just a song…

 

Produced by Rick Parker (BRMC), Existential Beast was recorded in Los Angeles and, along with the aforementioned single,  the album has a stunner of a closer with “Another World.” Running close to 12 minutes, the string-laden, lyrically immersive track really feels like it comes from another world (“I’m not afraid to speak of the darkness, for it has been brought to light,” sings Richards).

 

Music fans will probably remember Miranda Lee Richards’ 2012 track “The Reach,” and while one can assume that Richards can create her share of melodic, arresting, and radio friendly tracks like “The Reach,” tunes like “Another World” add an extra dimension to her material. I also loved that she, at the beginning of the year, did a subtle yet effective cover of Sandy Denny’s soul baring tune “I’m a Dreamer.”

 

 

PLUNGER

APRIL 25, 2017

 

Well, it’s an unlikely combination…

… and Plunger doesn’t mean the pair on the cover. Miranda Lee Richards’ Existential Beast is a crazed magpie’s pick’n’mix selection of what’s interesting, or different, or just attention-grabbingly shiny, sometimes within the one song. And it works.

It all begins innocently enough with the mid-paced Laurel Canyon country of Ashes And Seeds, with liquid vocal, pedal steel and noodly understated guitar very much in keeping with Miranda’s Californian home, although the splash of Mellotron hints at the surprises to come.

And they come right away in The Wildwood: a relentless beat, chugging guitars and ecstatic vox are reminiscent of a Sonja Kristina or Jade Williams mystical rite, with unexpected melodic progressions and time shifts compounded by trippy synth and tubular bells. Lucid I Would Dream mashes the two strands into one, with Miranda’s crystal voice and the return of the pedal steel blended with mellotron, synth flute and military snare for a Carnaby Street birth-of-psychedelia vibe.

There are strands of British whimsy elsewhere too: Oh Raven has that quintessentially English bucolic prog feel of Genesis, Camel (and even Kate Bush) with its quirky musical box pizzicato strings and high glockenspiel accents; while the deceptively simple neo-folk of Back To The Source evokes Maddy Prior-joins-Crosby Stills & Nash, its simple acoustic guitar backing enlivened with lush, multi-layered vocals assembled into unusual harmonies and reaching freakishly high peaks.

CSN come to Plunger’s mind again in the simple finger-picked homespun Nashery of Autumn Sun, and the lazy, hazy Baja-sunshine-and-Quaalude mellowness of the title track, with gritty guitar swells, swirly Hammond and sax adding to the 70s polish before a spine tingling near-a cappella mutli-part choir and organ close; while On The Outside Of Heaven evokes an equally-sunny-but-sinister LA atmosphere, with a Buckingham/Nicks rockier groove.

Heading all the way out into left field is Golden Gate, an ethereal swirling Dervish ¾ psychedelic lope, part Beatles-meets-Byrds, part Curved Air-meets-Airplane, its mesmeric repeated guitar phrase embellished with insistent Grateful Dead bass line and Hawkwindesque swooping synth culminating in a trippy freeform wig out.

Completing the 70s homage is the closing track Another World, an epic Crosby/Joniesque political and environmental lament with initially just simple guitar and fairground pipe organ to back Miranda’s limpid voice: this is augmented steadily by plaintive harmony recorders for a reprise of the rustic prog theme, then sax in increasingly complex interweaving phrases, before a lone cello then a full string trio join for a rhapsodic finale topped with a sonorous Górecki-style string-only coda to end the spellbinding 12-minute magnum opus.

Existential Beast’s kaleidoscopic, constantly-changing moods and colours are surprising, intriguing and captivating: this is a truly fantastic collection of songs.

Existential Beast is released on 16th June

 

 

DAILY COUNTRY

Harriett - APRIL 28

Los Angeles-based Miranda Lee Richards will release her fourth full-length album, Existential Beast, June 16 via Invisible Hands Music.  To this project, as well as to her previous releases, Richards brings her substantive, poetic lyrics together with a psychedelic, folk-tinged country sound (reminiscent of Los Angeles-based, early 1970’s band Spirit) to deliver a powerful look at today’s post-election political climate.

In the title, Existential Beast, the singer-songwriter has skillfully conveyed the premise of the album. No matter on which end of the political spectrum we may fall, most of us are grappling with the beasts within that emerge and  influence the way we deal with instincts of fear, dread, survival and competition. It has been argued that fairy tales, rife with beasts, serve the purpose of helping children cope with these instincts so you can think of Richards’ latest as a fairy tale for adults.

 

“Ashes And Seeds” is the first track and serves as a thoughtful reminder that history is constantly repeating and that conflict is essential to positive change. The smooth sounds of pedal steel highlight Richards’ laid back, fluid vocals. “Lucid I Would Dream” evokes the dream-like state with the effective use of strings and Mellotron while lyrically imagining that with clarity, fears would diminish. The title track brings a slight R&B vibe into the mix and poses that the time for complacency is over.

 

Existential Beast closes, as it begins, with hope in the ethereal, string-laden and aptly- titled “Another World”. It is epic in length (over 12 minutes) and in breadth with its uplifting call to contribute to solutions. "Well I see another world/Where we invite the enemy for dinner/And we learn to draw new boundaries/Exploring new territories/California don’t throw yourself to the sea/You were part of a bigger picture."

 

Though certainly a collection of politically charged songs, to define the album solely as such would be limiting.  There is much to discover in the beauty of the vocals, the poetry in the lyrics and the uniqueness of the production found in Existential Beast. Visit her website at www.mirandaleerichards.com to learn more about this accomplished artist

 

 

CHPTR.CO

APRIL 27

Friday Fresh Vol 002

 

Miranda Lee Richards

 

Richards was a surprising discovery through our musical travels. Transcending the confines of the psychedelia label, her music has a sense of sensual and self-identitive cohesion that hasn’t been heard in quite some time. We chose First Light of Winter as your gateway drug into her sonic airspace because it retains a touch of an airy sublime sound while ingratiating yourselves to a songwriter maturing before your ears.

 

 

ECHOES OF THE DREAMTIME:

 

 

 

 

Echoes Of The Dreamtime

Invisible Hands Music. CD LP

 

After six years away, a coming of age return by the San Franciscan singer-songwriter.

 

"Richards’ third and follow up to 2009’s Light Of X couldn’t be better titled. The eight songs here, recorded with her husband, producer Rick Parker in The Sandbox, their LA home studio, with a group of musician friends, conjure a feeling of time out of time. Opener 7th Ray captures that spine-tingling otherworldly sense perfectly: “You came in on the 7th ray of the 7th day of the year,” she sings over seasoned pedal steel. "Colours So Fine", another stand out, is five and a half minutes of consciousness reawakening cloaked in rich Byrdsian country. The sublime "First Light Of Winter" though is the moment it all comes together; Richards’ transcending, perhaps, for the first time, her influences, and no longer constrained, arriving at psychedelia’s higher plane."

 

-- Lois Wilson, MOJO Magazine (four stars)

 

 

 

Born in San Francisco somewhere between Woodstock and Saturday Night Fever, Richards is a former early member of the Brian Jonestown Massacre and married to Rick Parker, who, among other things, produced Bohemian Like You for the Dandy Warhols. None of which, other than he produced this too, is particularly relevant in the appreciation of this dreamy collection of eight, pastoral tracks that average around five and a half minutes and lean heavily on atmosphere in her self-professed quest to have people slow down, listen and reflect. Indeed, the ethereal Americana of 7th Ray would feel at home in some early hours chill out room. That said, Tokyo’s Dancing is more up-tempo with its jangling guitars and a folksy air reminiscent of 10,000 Maniacs at their most light-footed. There’s a similar feel to Little Radio, her pure, comforting voice and simple acoustic guitar giving way to a fuller band sound with flashes of electric guitar overriding the softer backdrop.

The seven minute First Light of Winter is a moodier piece, the scene set with dark reverb guitar and echoey vocals before an swirling empty desert ambience embraces it, Even longer is It Was Given, a musical saw evoking the sound of the wind and backgrounding the acoustic strum through a decidedly folk number with its narrative based on Michael Haneke’s enigmatic drama The White Ribbon which, set in Germany in the run up to WWI, explores the origins of cruelty.

Elsewhere, the closing Already Fine also has a folk sensibility, more traditionally inclined this time, Colours So Fine is fairly straightforward 70s West Coast folk rock and Julian weaves Eastern colours (sitar, tabla) into its mix of flute, violin, guitar and looped percussion mix for a six-minute account of a relationship foundering through lack of trust and selfishness as she sings “I see you as a child who has needs/It’s so easy to forgive you, but it’s always me, me, me.”

While readily accessible, the combination of literate lyrics and subtle, complex arrangements means this may take longer to unfold its deeper charms than is usual, but the time spent will be well worth it.

 

-- Mike Davies, ROOTS AND BRANCHES

 

 

 

A growing trend in 2016’s musical landscape appears to be female singer-songwriters with all of the potential in the world finally ascending beyond past expectations into a lane that is fully their own. We’ve seen it with Sierra Hull’s Weighted Mind, and simultaneously it has happened with Miranda Lee Richards’ Echoes of the Dreamtime, released on the same day. Both releases see their respective artists reaching that higher plane, and for Richards, especially, it has been a long time coming. First making her solo mark as an individualistic “dream folk” artist in her mid-20s with 2001’s The Herethereafter, it has taken Richards a solid decade and a half to transcend past previous criticisms and develop an album that is fully herself as she is in the now. Matured by her years of experience performing, a now 40-year-old Richards comes across as more world-aware than she ever has been, and, as a result, more of a fresh commodity worth lending an ear to than she ever has been before.

Right off the top of Echoes of the Dreamtime, Richards opens the album with deistic sentiment laced between lilting psychedelia in her instrumentation that her fans have become acclimated towards, at this point. Still, there is something more assured, more authentic about Richards in the now that makes her latest efforts come across as more listenable affairs, that makes her latest efforts come across as more than just neat experiments, but an entire adventure waiting to delve into. She takes us on a journey as she searches for herself, coming across as a spiritual traveler looking for their own personal light as she sings of her journey, critiquing world corruption and the state of humanity along the way. This is real folk listening with modern inventiveness tossed in for good measure.

 

--Jonathan Frahm, FOR FOLKSAKE BLOG

 

 

San Francisco-born and Los Angeles-based Miranda Lee Richards is a moving singer-songwriter who once sang on early recordings of the Brian Jonestown Massacre. Richards appeared with them in the rock documentary 'Dig!'

 

Her new album 'Echoes of the Dreamtime' is a hypnotic and atmospheric record, both meditative and thought provoking. It was fully recorded at her home studio, the Sandbox.

 

“You came in on the seventh ray of the seventh day of the year.” '7th Ray' begins with a gorgeous mellifluous flow. Richards’ vocal is striking from the start - sultry and rich. The opener is a story song describing a character marching to the beat of his or her own drum, who chased the night until ultimately finding a new road. The lyric “found a new way” echoes to the close.

 

'Tokyo’s Dancing' is lovely with lyrics about sleeping in a bed of roses and searching for fossils in the canyons, as well as speaking to planetary motion: “I see the earth moving slowly as she turns.”

 

These songs feature heartfelt lyrical imagery - at times a touch dark, but poignant, poetic and full of meaning. 'First Light of Winter' is beautiful and haunting: “I’ve been travelling down a dark road/Going places that no one knows… Brace yourself for the first light of winter.” The lyric and melody cut to the bone; Richards’ vocal is both chilling and resonant. A brilliant number, the song ends with hope: “The coast is clear/You will survive this.”

 

Beginning with an Eastern mystic like flow, 'Colours So Fine' captures vision from the mind’s eye. Richards sings of seeing forever, new dimensions, and colours so fine, falling from heaven.

 

The heartfelt closer 'Already Fine”'is melancholy tinged and touching, but a song of hope: “Like a soldier who fights for good/You were already fine.”

 

Resonant strings with violin and cello help to take this album home. In the end, 'Echoes of the Dreamtime' is a rich, evocative effort from Miranda Lee Richards.

 

--Carl Bookstein, PENNYBLACK MUSIC

 

 

 

A daughter of the sixties, her parents being contemporaries of Robert Crumb in the Underground Comix world of San Francisco Miranda Lee Richards first came to attention as a member of the anarchic Brian Jonestown Massacre, appearing in the acclaimed film, Dig!, which, if you haven’t seen, you should. Echoes of The Dreamtime is her third solo album and it leans more towards what one might expect from a flower child’s child as opposed to The Jonestown’s more combatative efforts. Recorded at her home studio with husband, Rick Parker producing, the eight songs here are sumptuous slices of ethereal folk/pop/rock, bathed in a sunny glow, the instruments sparkling like reflections from a crystal pool.

Richards has a glorious voice, at times reminiscent of Laura Cantrell, which is here:

-- FOR FOLKSAKE BLOG REVIEW “ECHOES OF THE DREAMTIME” – UK – 2-20-16

 

A growing trend in 2016’s musical landscape appears to be female singer-songwriters with all of the potential in the world finally ascending beyond past expectations into a lane that is fully their own. We’ve seen it with Sierra Hull’s Weighted Mind, and simultaneously it has happened with Miranda Lee Richards’ Echoes of the Dreamtime, released on the same day. Both releases see their respective artists reaching that higher plane, and for Richards, especially, it has been a long time coming. First making her solo mark as an individualistic “dream folk” artist in her mid-20s with 2001’s The Herethereafter, it has taken Richards a solid decade and a half to transcend past previous criticisms and develop an album that is fully herself as she is in the now. Matured by her years of experience performing, a now 40-year-old Richards comes across as more world-aware than she ever has been, and, as a result, more of a fresh commodity worth lending an ear to than she ever has been before.

Right off the top of Echoes of the Dreamtime, Richards opens the album with deistic sentiment laced between lilting psychedelia in her instrumentation that her fans have become acclimated towards, at this point. Still, there is something more assured, more authentic about Richards in the now that makes her latest efforts come across as more listenable affairs, that makes her latest efforts come across as more than just neat experiments, but an entire adventure waiting to delve into. She takes us on a journey as she searches for herself, coming across as a spiritual traveler looking for their own personal light as she sings of her journey, critiquing world corruption and the state of humanity along the way. This is real folk listening with modern inventiveness tossed in for good measure.

 

--Jonathan Frahm, FOR FOLKSAKE BLOG

 

 

 

A daughter of the sixties, her parents being contemporaries of Robert Crumb in the Underground Comix world of San Francisco Miranda Lee Richards first came to attention as a member of the anarchic Brian Jonestown Massacre, appearing in the acclaimed film, Dig!, which, if you haven’t seen, you should. Echoes of The Dreamtime is her third solo album and it leans more towards what one might expect from a flower child’s child as opposed to The Jonestown’s more combatative efforts. Recorded at her home studio with husband, Rick Parker producing, the eight songs here are sumptuous slices of ethereal folk/pop/rock, bathed in a sunny glow, the instruments sparkling like reflections from a crystal pool.

 

Richards has a glorious voice, at times reminiscent of Laura Cantrell, which is heard to best advantage on the flowing Tokyo Dancing, gliding over the shimmering guitars and on the closing contemplative Already Fine where she’s multi tracked over a string section with the guitar underlay recalling the English folk revival of the late sixties; the weeping cello and viola melancholic. Lyrically she veers towards the self aware meanderings and symbolic portentousness common amongst some Seventies freak flag carriers (yeah, Dave Crosby, we mean you) but when the words are wrapped up in the hypnotic swoon of a song like 7th Ray the effect is just so appealing.

 

7th Ray opens the album with a bang and the following Tokyo Dancing promises a full garden of delights here. However Little Radio is somewhat clumsy, the guitars too charged up as if the aim here is FM radio play (if that still exists), the same applying to the menacing First Light Of Winter while It Was Given tends too much towards the twee pastoral psychedelic folk that stuffed record racks back in the days. However there’s pay dirt in the two songs that are the centrepiece of the album. Julian is a direct hit into the heart of the sixties, tabla and sitar pinning the song into the Indian music fetish of the times while Colours So Fine shines, its arabesque guitars and busy drum sound hitting a Byrds like groove, the harmonies soaring aloft. More of this and the album would be that much better.

 

--Paul Kerr, BLABBER N’ SMOKE

 

 

 

“The neatest aspect of Miranda Lee Richards’ third long-player may be found in the glaring detail that it’s clearly assembled for the vinyl market.

 

Miranda’s a pretty Californian with a producer husband and a bunch of handy musician friends, making this homegrown, country-flecked pop album all just a bit of a charmer.  Straight out of the Gary Louris/Elliott Smith school of melody and stacking up a slim eight songs, Echoes Of The Dreamtime is a sweet and mystifying affair.

 

The opening triplet of ‘7th Ray’, ‘Tokyo’s Dancing’ and ‘Little Radio’ are by far the most dominant, and couple Miranda’s honeyed (double-tracked?) vocals with a confident lead guitar.  That said, Echoes trails a little for this listener, only just catching up with the folksy closer, ‘Already Fine’ – the spirit of The Wicker Man soundtrack is sent to haunt us, and Miranda Lee lands perfectly on her feet. A more than pleasant surprise.”

 

--Louis Comfort-Wiggett, SHINDIG! (Issue #53)

 

 

 

“Miranda Lee Richards is a Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter.  Her album Echoes Of Dreamtime is realeased on January 29th and is a tuneful mis of folk, psychedelia, country and indie pop, which comes as a slight surprise as she was taught to play guitar by her friend Kirk Hammet of Metallica.”

 

--Michael Hingston, AMERICANA ROUNDUP, COUNTRY MUSIC PEOPLE MAGAZINE

 

 

 

“ECHOES OF THE DREAMTIME is a perfectly named album.  This latest offering from American singer and songwriter, Miranda Lee Richards, has a beautiful hazy, dreamy feel.  Richards opted to focus on producing eight longer, high quality songs rather than lots of short soundbites and here it definitely pays off allowing the listener to become fully immersed.

 

The music has a mellow feel with Richards’ soft vocal soothing the listener, especially on the final track Already Fine.  I also enjoyed the Eastern-influenced Julian and more brooding First Light of Winter.

 

Many of Richards’ friends and neighbours played on the  album which was recorded at her home studio, and this comes across in the music giving it a homely feel.  Overall, a beautifully made and relaxing listen.”

 

--Helen Thomas,  MAVERICK MAGAZINE (four stars)

 

 

"Miranda Lee Richards isn’t a newbie to the Americana scene. The San Francisco singer-songwriter has two albums and an EP out, but her last, Light Of X, was back in 2009. Today, we have Richards’ new track “7th Ray” off her upcoming record Echoes Of The Dreamtime out in January. It’s a gorgeous midtempo track that sounds a bit like what Beach House come up with if they tried to write roots rock."

 

-- Grace Birnstengal, STEREOGUM

 

 

 

"What does it mean to describe a song as “psychedelic?” Most dictionaries say psychedelic pertains directly to “suggesting the effects of psychedelic drugs by having bright colors, strange sounds, etc,” which is a little close-minded. By that definition, Miranda Lee Richards’ new song is not psychedelic. It isn’t strange at all. In fact, it’s extremely mellow, easy to sink into and relaxing as a bath. But in this warm bath you come to consider the journey of your soul and subconscious experience, and perhaps the dictionary would argue that people only come into contact with that abstract sense of self on drugs. And since “7th Ray” begins with the line “You came in on the 7th ray of the 7th day of the year,” we’re all clearly high if we can connect to the imagery.

 

OK, this concludes our brief battle with the limited worldview of online dictionaries. Instead let’s get back to Miranda Lee Richards and her folk-rock stuff, a woman who learned guitar from Kirk Hammet of Metallica, by the way. “7th Ray” is a cut from her first album in six years, “Echoes Of The Dreamtime,” recorded at home with producer Rick Parker (who has worked with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Lord Huron). It will be released by Invisible Hands Music on Jan. 29. Setting the mood, Richards says her first single is “about transformation, about the journey of the soul in this lifetime. You start off beautiful, innocent and sure of yourself, and along the way, things happen that allow disillusionment to set in.” The song comes to a positive conclusion “where you find a new way to experience more joy and contentment, reclaiming a relationship with your true self in the process,” she says. Anyone can benefit from putting that in their pipe."

 

-- Daiana Feuer, BUZZBANDS L.A.

 

Darkly Atmospheric, Articulate Tales of Love and Loss.

 

The slightly psychedelic and 60’s inspired album cover very nearly put me off listening to this delightful album for a couple of weeks; as I was expecting something in the mode of Pentangle or perhaps some Indie-Hippie pastiche like Kulashaker; but I was a little bit wrong.

Opening track, 7th Ray made me sit back and listen intently as soon as Miranda’s smoke voice entered the frey; as she immediately reminded me of Caution Horses era Margo Timmins (Cowboy Junkies). The lyrics are quite deep; but listening on headphones was quite a ‘buzz’ and took me back to those heady days of being a teenager; trying to deconstruct songs.

The Cowboy Junkies theme came back to me during the spiky Littleradio; an soft acoustic song but with a slightly Gothic edge when the fuzzy guitars kick in. Just what I needed in the aftermath of those Christmas excesses.

Aha! I knew she couldn’t get through this album without a cursory nod towards psychedelia; and it arrives courtesy of Julian; a rather beautiful song with a violin, cello and viola that could have been recorded in West London between 1968 and 70; but it’s not and will sound as fresh as a daisy to anyone under 25.

Later on Colours So Fine; someone manages to make their instrument (possibly a slide guitar) sound like a sinister sitar; an odd thing to do, sounding spooky and wonderful in equal measures; as does the song itself.

While there are only 8 tracks here; don’t worry as the shortest song is four and a half minutes long and the epic It Was Given clocks in slightly shy of eight minutes with not a second wasted; as Miranda cloaks us in a story of Percy Bysshe Shelley proportions.

Echoes of a Dreamtime is another album that should be listened to as a complete work; preferably late at night with candles flickering and the third glass of something strong and alcoholic by your side; but if pushed I would recommend the stunning First Light of Winter as your entry portal to see if you might like the album.

I mentioned the Cowboy Junkies earlier; and Miranda Lee Richards will certainly appeal to their fans; alongside lovers of Lucinda Williams, The Handsome Family and most of all Tift Merritt.

Although Miranda Lee Richards released her first LP in 2001 on the fledgling Virgin Records label; she’s actually a new name to me; but on hearing this beautifully constructed album; I will actively be seeking out her earlier work.

 

Released January 29th 2016

 

--THE ROCKING MAGPIE BLOG

 

 

 

Miranda Lee Richards - Echoes of the Dreamtime : Invisible Hands Music

 

"With the strains of 2016 just barely breaking through, a strong candidate for the most appropriate title of the year has emerged. Instead of being the name of the record, ECHOES OF THE DREAMTIME is a heaven sent quote to describe its sound which floats in a celestial haze throughout a pleasurable forty-five minutes spent within listening distance. In fact to be more accurate, Miranda Lee Richards has been the source of a gorgeous album packed full of ethereal ambience while being underpinned by a sturdy substance. For definition purposes, the album resides at a multi-sound junction where the paths of folk, pop, indie and Americana meet. It has hardly been a prolific solo recording career for Miranda, a San Francisco born LA native, with this just being her fourth full length release since 2001. However if such inactivity in populating her own solo back catalogue has led to bundles of suppressed creative energy, then the clear winners are those who will be smitten by the new record. The Californian laid back feeling may just be an illusion for those of us thousands of miles from the Pacific west coast, but this idyllic concept is further fuelled by melting your senses into the eight tracks which configure the album. Don’t be misled by this apparent low number as plenty of six and eight minute songs are on offer, each blending Miranda’s sumptuous vocals with a mix of indie-driven subtle guitars and more cultured string arrangements.The album is being given a worldwide release through Invisible Hands Music and is virtually a home produced record with Miranda’s husband, Rick Parker undertaking the production role. The team have certainly come up trumps with perhaps two tracks vying for number one appeal led by the great hooks and delightful melody which adorns ‘Tokyo’s Dancing’, with the added enticing appeal of a super guitar solo in the final stages. ‘First Light of Winter’is a track with a faint slice of twang that builds up to a soaring chorus. There is definitely an indie vibe to both the acoustic and electric parts to ‘Little Radio’ which almost sees the album break out of its shell. However this shell is far from restrictive and adds a comforting protective feel which gives the record a soothing medicinal purpose. It is always handy to possess an opening track with an addictive feel as well and the excellent ‘7th Ray’ pulls this off to a tee. These four aforementioned tracks comprise of the record’s first half with there being a slightly different atmosphere to the second part which climaxes with the dream-laden ‘Already Fine’ where the cello kicks in. Prior to this, the eight-minute epic ‘It Was Given’ continues to mesmerise the listener in perhaps a softer vein than the early stages, but also allowing them to focus more on Miranda’s vocals. It may be a co-incidence but Miranda had a surge of success in Japan early in her career and the track ‘Julian’ does have a slight Eastern mystique to it. ‘Colours So Fine’ completes the track listing and further merges into the well-worn philosophy of an album entity being greater than the sum of its parts. Obviously lesser releases lean heavily on stand-out tracks, but this record has its soul firmly rooted in the complete album camp.ECHOES OF THE DREAMTIME is the antithesis of a throw-away society where shallow music is consigned to the wallpaper or the trash bin. The underlying high quality riffs and beats secure a solid base for Miranda’s vocals to melt the heart with the added bonus of eight marvellously constructed songs. It may only be January, but there is almost a summer glow to the record. Miranda Lee Richards has obviously kept this gem under wraps until now, with a firm prediction that it will float around for a long time."

 

-- David, THREE CHORDS AND THE TRUTH Blog, UK

 

 

 

"Miranda Lee Richards was a name not known to me prior to receiving this CD for review. It came with a very informative press release and a subsequent look through her excellent website filled in lots of gaps. For the uninitiated like me, Miranda was born in San Francisco after the summer of love and grew up in a bohemian household with her Parents, the well-known comic book writers Ted and Teresa Richards. Graduating from the San Francisco School of Arts her initial forays into music included learning guitar from Metallica's Kirk Hammett and a spell with The Brian Jonestown Band as a singer. As a solo artist, Miranda released albums in 2001 and 2009 and her music has been featured in films and several TV series, primarily in the United States.

 

This latest release was recorded in her home studio with her husband and producer Rick Parker who has worked with artists such as Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and the Dandy Warhols. Her mission statement for this CD was to bring together eight pastoral, atmospheric pieces that should amount to her best work yet.

 

So, on to the record itself. The opening track, '7th Ray', certainly sets the albums stall out in terms of feel, playing and atmosphere. It is recorded beautifully and whilst repeated listens reveal how much is going on in the track, never does it sound remotely busy or cluttered. The sound on this and throughout is very hard to pin down, as is her voice. The press release talks of Miranda's first album in 2001 being a mix of folk, psychedelia and country which seems apposite, to which I would add a meditational, new age vibe.

 

So on '7th Ray' I hear almost a Morcheeba like, lazy, leisurely, Trip Hop feel going on with some lovely instrumentation and drum track before Miranda's voice comes in with the lyric 'You came in on the 7th ray, of the 7th day, of the year' which sets a suitably ethereal tone. The recording of her voice on this track is also very interesting I think, warm but slightly distant and sounding on top of the music but still somehow slightly back from it. At times, this and other tracks reminded me of those early 70's recordings by artists like Tim Buckley and Fairport Convention, particularly the vocal take, whilst still sounding polished and new.

 

The second track 'Tokyo's Dancing' is very strong, again full of lovely playing and put me in mind of Natalie Merchant's 10,000 Maniacs with its jangly guitars and harmony vocals.

 

Track three 'Little Radio' starts off simply with acoustic guitar and Miranda's voice before the band come in with electric guitar and drums after about a minute to push the song through as the vocal moves further back in the mix.

 

Other stand out tracks are the nearly seven minute long 'First Flight of Winter' with its deep, gloomy, reverb ridden guitar intro followed by a spacey vocal intoning 'I've been travelling, down a dark road'. I can easily imagine the first 30 seconds of this song introducing the next Peaky Blinders trailer!

 

However, the song is restless and moves on from this feel into something more gentle and meditative as the band comes in.

 

The longest track on the album 'It Was Given' comes in at one second under eight minutes and is another that starts with a gently strummed chord sequence over what I think is a musical saw drone. It is beautifully haunting and reminded me of those sequences in the Jack Nicholson film 'One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest' where something sounding like this was played over key, moving moments. Initially I assumed it was a keyboard getting this sound, but the press release mentions a neighbour playing the musical saw, so I hope it was they!

 

The last track, 'Already Fine' is my personal favourite, starting with a sweetly picked guitar part that Miranda simply hums over before coming in with the full vocal, very much putting me in mind of Sandy Denny and the traditional song 'She Moved Through The Fair.

 

The playing on the album is universally tight and apparently, many friends and neighbours are featured throughout on guitar, cello, viola, violin, backing vocals and the previously mentioned musical saw.

 

In some ways, I think this is a brave piece of work, as Miranda seems to be making no concessions to current sounds or trends and is very much following her own instincts and beliefs. Clearly, this will appeal to her existing fan base, which seems considerable in the United States and I can imagine numerous clips or passages from these songs used in the media, on television or in films.

 

However, her commitment to this sound may also have a limiting effect concerning a more general reception. Firstly, all the songs are long, some very long, certainly by UK radio play standards. Secondly, the meditative nature of the songs mean that by definition they take a long time to get where they are going and as the music is quite one paced, some tracks tend to blend into one another without a clear musical distinction between them. Lastly, I do think the sound and production is somehow not of this time. That is not to say it sounds dated or old fashioned, indeed the recording quality is excellent, just that it may be something of an acquired taste being so stylised, smooth and seamless.

 

Overall though, I see these as possible placement rather than quality problems and particularly with repeated listens, all sorts of textures, tones and depths reveal themselves, which I think was Miranda's stated aim in capturing people's attention and inspiring them to 'slow down, listen and reflect'."

 

-- Paul Jackson, FATEA BLOG

 

 

 

"Miranda Lee Richards first appeared on music fans’ radar via her collaborations with Brian Jonestown Massacre, though she never officially joined the band. The association gained the kind of industry attention that enabled her to record her first solo record, 2001’s The Herethereafter, in which she expertly wove assorted threads of folk, psychedelia, and dreamy pop into a highly praised debut, earning comparisons to Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval and the Innocence Mission’s Karen Peris. 2009’s follow-up Light of X mined similar territory but generated a less warm reception, with some critics worrying that Richards’ lyrical abilities did not live up to the sonic moods and influences she evoked.

 

Whether or not those criticisms struck home, Richards returns seven years on with Echoes of the Dreamtime, an album that fulfills all the promise of her debut and which finds her maturing into the kind of songwriter who can surprise listeners with turns of phrase or sound that seem familiar until examined closely. Richards offers up a deeply spiritual album here, some may say Christian in its referential symbolism, but more deistic to my ears, taking for granted a greater power in the universe but not getting lost in any need to solve the mystery of that power’s origin or purpose, beyond seeing in it a wish for benevolence for its creations.

 

The overarching theme of searching appears from the album’s opening cut, “7th Ray”, with its story of an innocent “born with feathers in your hair” searching for meaning amidst the glitz of the urban club scene, seeking connection amidst the falsity, only to, as layered guitars mix welcoming riffs, find “a new way home”. “Tokyo Dancing” offers a similar story, its subject searching for meaning only to face a beast of indistinct but sinister purpose. Nonetheless, the message is to continue on, for only through persistence will we learn “What’s in store for our future.” In “Colors So Fine” Richards reveals an understanding that, though her vision is promising, she is still far from the path to enlightenment, while “Julian” demonstrates her ability to cut through the bullshit and call out a false prophet. The subject of this song seems like a guru who promises spiritual conversion as a means, simply, of converting faith to profit.

 

One of the album’s highlights is its first single “First Light of Winter”. Accompanied by a swampy psychedelia, Richards embraces the insatiable hunger of her striving, seeing it as the beast inside herself that it is and welcoming it into a warm embrace. There’s a hint of Berryman’s Dream Songs to this internal monologue when she counsels herself to “grab the line before you hit the bottom”. When she states a wish to “write a letter to the government”, it is with a sense of dis-ease with all powers that be, not so much a criticism of any particular administration, but a giving into a general sense that the system is no longer able to protect us from the many terrors surrounding us, both from within and without.

 

This sense of lost compass is amplified in “It Was Given”, a song, Richards notes, that was inspired by Michael Haneke’s film The White Ribbon. In his review of the film, Roger Ebert wrote, “Random wicked acts create disorder and erode the people’s faith that life makes sense. The suspicion that the known facts cannot be made to add up is as disturbing as if the earth gave way beneath our feet.” Richards’ lyrics do a fine job of encapsulating the plot and mirroring a sense of dread where “even the children with their angelic stares” are suspected of hiding something. That order is eventually restored without benefit of the many mysteries being solved is a cold comfort.

 

And perhaps there is something of an answer there. Prayers aren’t answered, but that doesn’t make them false. The spiritual quest should never be concluded. Every possible answer is a possible trap denying progression into perception of a deeper awareness. Album closer “Already fine” offers a psalm’s simplicity in stark contrast to the busy symbolism of the album’s seven other tracks. “Like frankincense, myrrh, and wine / You were already fine.” Each lyric is as simple and direct. At album’s end, the journey is not yet over, but there remains awareness that the striving that drives the journey might itself be misleading. This sense of contentment in the lack of answers is the definition of maturity.

 

Produced by Rick Parker, who also plays multiple instruments, and grounded by the strong lead guitar work of Randy Billings, the musical arrangements on Echoes of the Dreamtime surround Richards’ warm voice in complementary sonic textures that welcome the listener into her musings. The folk-psychedelic accompaniments are never overly busy as they set the mood for each song. In all, the eight tracks that comprise the album flow seamlessly into each other, creating a vibrant whole. Richards has grown beyond her influences and is ready to become, herself, a spirit guide to a new generation of songwriters."

 

 

 

--Ed Whitelock, POP MATTERS

 

 

ECHOES OF THE DREAMTIME

 

Rating: 7/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LIGHT OF X PRESS:

 

 

“The follow-up to her debut album evokes her Cali dream-pop heroes Mazzy Star, although Richards' music is airier and poppier — think of it as freak folk with just a schmear of freak. ‘Life Boat’ is a big, warm hug with dub effects, pedal steel and hash-den tambourine; ‘Mirror at the End’ sports a chorus big enough for Sheryl Crow. Delivered in a pure, unblemished voice, even the sad songs are comforting…"

 

--Will Hermes, ROLLING STONE

 

 

 

"Another L.A.-based artist, Miranda Lee Richards, has veered from the trendy norm, with her latest release, LIGHT OF X (Nettwerk). Sonic portraits of Joni Mitchell and Emmylou Harris color almost every track of this album (particularly ‘Hideaway’ and ‘Hidden Treasure’), and Richards feels no need to disguise her nod to these luminaries--nor should she. The singer successfully channels her hippie-princess vibe through wah-wah pedal steel and lithe soprano, resulting in retro-leaning, Baroque folk-pop perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon. X reminds us, once again, that the creative Mecca Laurel Canyon is not just a place but also a sound and state of mind. "

 

--Jessica Draper, PERFORMING SONGWRITER

 

 

 

“The dreaminess that made The Herethereafter so appealing, and popular with film and TV soundtracks, is still there. If anything, she’s dreamier, the tempos a little more down, the mood more twilit. Her songs and vocals are as likely to be accompanied by piano (Breathless) and cello (Hidden Treasures) as acoustic guitar and pedal steel.

 

--SS, MOJO

 

 

 

“California country has always been as much about evoking a magic-hour atmosphere as the genre’s traditional strum-and-twang. Richards’ new album, Light of X, is as beguiling and witchy as Joni Mitchell but also dripped in reverb, distant pedal steel and Richards’ tender alto.

 

--LOS ANGELES TIMES

 

 

 

“Seven years after her critically lauded debut, Richards returns…with touches of airy psychedelia and loping country. The album is full of airy beauty and precious melodies sung in an angelic voice.”

 

--Frank Valish, UNDER THE RADAR

 

 

 

“A self-described practitioner of ‘psychedelic chamber folk rock,’ San Francisco hippie child Miranda Lee Richards certainly has her fair share of friends. She was schooled in rock by her buddy's boyfriend, Metallica's Kirk Hammett, and teamed up with Jon Brion and producer Rick Parker (the Von Bondies, BRMC) for her critically acclaimed debut, The Herethereafter. Fans of that disc were pleased to find her newest record, LIGHT OF X travels similarly moody terrain, employing equally impressive support from the likes of Mars Volta bassist Eva Gardner, Mazzy Star drummer Keith Mitchell, and Beachwood Sparks guitarist Josh Schwartz.”

 

--FLAVORPILL

 

 

 

“On LIGHT OF X, Richards sounds like a Southern California incarnation of ethereal Canadians Sarah McLachlan and Loreena McKennitt, dressing these 12 tracks with warmly swelling melodies; poetic, melancholy lyrics; carefully nuanced arrangements; and smooth dynamics that ebb and flow in a low-key manner.”

 

--Gary Graff, BILLBOARD

 

 

 

"The soft but assured vocals of Miranda Lee Richards cast a glow upon the delicate, 60's inspired folk-pop on her new CD, LIGHT OF X (Nettwerk). The chiming guitars, strings and piano shine with a melancholy dreaminess, and so do Richards's lyrics. (‘Finally, there's something/I can hold onto that isn't broken’)."

 

--Scott Frampton, O (THE OPRAH MAGAZINE)

 

 

 

“A mash-up of Mazzy Star’s etherealness and Lucinda Williams’ folksy lyricism creates a composite of wind, sea and cotton-soft tracks that have a familiar, time-tested feeling. This Cali-coastal coolness is something Richards refers to as ‘Psychedelic Chamber Folk Rock’ equally soothing as the sun’s breaking or setting.”

 

--Laura Schooling, ANGELENO

 

 

 

 “The Herethereafter, the debut album from Los Angeles based singer/songwriter Miranda Lee Richards, was one of my favorite albums of the early part of this decade. Nearly eight years later, Richards returns with Light Of X, twelve tracks (plus one hidden track) that more than deliver on the promise of that first record. Like its predecessor, Light Of X is a mixture of folk, rock, and psychedelia, though with a little less emphasis on the latter this time out. Richards calls the music found here ‘Psychedelic Chamber Folk Rock,’ the ‘Chamber’ part referring to the lovely string arrangements that appear on some of the songs. Since Richards released her last record, her singing voice and her songwriting abilities have matured: Light Of X represents both a continuation of The Herethereafter and a progression forward. It’s a elegant and lovely work, filled with warmth and compassion, and it’s done with enough intelligence and built in resistance to easy sentimentality that it should appeal to even those listeners for whom the word ‘folk’ is a red flag. It’s enough to give ‘Pixie Fairy Dust Chick Music’ (as Courtney Taylor from the Dandy Warhols teasingly refers to Richards’ music) a good name. Standout cuts: ‘Breathless,’ ‘Life Boat,’ ‘Early November’ and ‘Last Days Of Summer.’

 

--THIS IS JUST A MODERN ROCK BLOG

 

 

 

“Her latest album, LIGHT OF X is arranged for maximum magic-hour scintillation, and Richards' willowy voice brings deceptively cutting lyrics to life."

 

--August Brown, LOS ANGELES TIMES

 

 

 

“Part of L.A.’s tastemaking Hotel Café scene, boho pop-folkie Richards has been kicking around the music scene for the past decade, collaborating with the Brian Jonestown Massacre and Joe Brion and licensing songs to film and TV. Light of X, helmed by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club producer Rick Parker, is a subtly crafted platter of dreamy, Mazzy Starr-meets-One Tree Hill pop. ‘Am I crazy, or are you blind?’ Richards asks over a gently chugging rhythm on ‘Early November.’ As with the cryptic single ‘Lifeboat’ (‘Freedom, my love, is a double-sided coin/What have you done to earn your keep?’), the answer’s not in the lyrics; it’s in the ride over waves of brooding electric guitar, piano and pedal steel, and the melancholy contours of Richards’ soprano."

 

--Bliss Bowen, FADE IN

 

 

 

“...when some darkness descends, as on ‘Pictures of You,’ her perky nature adds a bittersweet twist to the added emotional weight.”

 

--Andy Fyfe, Q

 

 

 

“In 2001, Richards made a dreamy little pop record that hardly anyone heard, but it'll be hard to ignore her when her sophomore release, LIGHT OF X (Nettwerk), arrives Feb. 10. The boho-chic California native really honed her sound in the interim, even if she rarely stays in one spot for long on the new album. One minute she sounds like a sun-kissed pop chanteuse, the next she's channeling a dusky torch singer reminiscent of Cat Power. Miranda wrote all the songs on X, but her supporting cast brings a wealth of obvious influences: drummer Keith Mitchell (Mazzy Star), bassist Eva Gardner (Mars Volta), and guitarist Josh Schwartz (Beachwood Sparks).”

 

--James Reed, BOSTON GLOBE

 

 

 

“[The songs] are triumphant, even exultant…the songs on this ol’ long-player manage to bridge the gap between melancholy and aw-shucks happiness, like the freedom found in finally letting go of all that once was good to you…Light of X is good when the lights are out and all around is dark.”

 

--Dan Collins, L.A. RECORD

 

 

 

”Glorious sun-dappled cosmic country from the one-time BJM associate. Like Mazzy Star blinking into the morning light, the yellow vinyl makes it even more sunny.”

 

-- NME

 

 

 

“Her long-awaited follow-up album, the new LIGHT OF X (Nettwerk), produced by Rick Parker, charms with delicate, carefully rendered balladry and gently laid-back pop tunes. There’s a hint of country music and wide-open spaces with Ben Peeler’s pedal-steel adornments on ‘Savorin’ Your Smile’ and ‘Olive Tree,’ and Richards’ radiant voice lights up the dusky guitar riffs of ‘Early November.’ She gives good jangle on the power-pop reverie ‘Pictures of You,’ while Parker frames her solemn piano chords with shimmering guitar plucking on the ballad ‘Here by the Window,’ which builds a haunting momentum with bluesy grandeur.”

 

--Falling James, LA WEEKLY

 

 

 

 “As ever, while the bigwigs look for the next female singer-songwriter with the perfect package of deep musical talent and great looks in all the wrong places— karaoke bars, shopping malls, and strip clubs, by the look of it —the genuine article sneaked through the back door unnoticed and unannounced. Miranda Lee Richards offered her lovely debut The Herethereafter in 2001, and spent most of the time following that release touring, showing up in hip indie films like Ondi Timoner’s Dig!, and performing with the likes of the Jesus and Mary Chain and Tim Burgess of the Charlatans. Now, with her debut for Nettwerk records, Richards has crafted a gorgeous collection of softly lit chamber-folk songs that highlight her lilting, understated singing. Think Mazzy Starr after a few cups of coffee. The production is warm and billowing, but the generous amounts of reverb only underscore Richards’ subtle, dreamy singing, never obscuring it. Sensitive, mellow, deeply feminine folk music that isn’t boring or overtly precious—well, that’s a rare thing. Light of X is stuffed with it.”

 

--Jeff Miers, BUFFALO NEWS

 

 

 

“Eight years ago, Miranda Lee Richards released her astonishing debut, The Herethereafter, to a cynical, just barely post-9/11 world that somehow didn’t understand her contemporary spin on ’60s Psychedelia and Folk, taking her cues from The Stones, The Doors, Nick Drake and the Mamas and the Papas. I fell hard for the album and her incredible backstory (daughter of underground cartoonists, took guitar lessons from Kirk Hammett as a teenager, professional modeling career, sang with the Brian Jonestown Massacre). Beginning where she left off on The Herethereafter, Richards eases into Light of X with ‘Breathless,’ a gorgeous piano ballad that effortlessly reprises her debut’s stunningly hushed closer, ‘The Landscape,’ based on a poem by Baudelaire. Richards intones emotionally ‘Before I met you, my life was a series of chances/Before I met you, my mind it was racing all the time,’ accompanied by a soundtrack that would make Fleetwood Mac green with Pop envy. Richards invests Light of X with a psychedelic SoCal cowgirl vibe, from the shimmering and ethereally grounded ‘Lifeboat’ to the Cowboy Junkies moan of ‘Mirror at the End.’ At the same time, she deftly channels a little Sarah McLachlan Pop into ‘Hideaway’ and casts a darker Nick Cave pall over ‘Early November,’ at least until brightening slightly for the jangly chorus…Here’s hoping that minds and ears are a little more open in 2009 (and a hopeful wish to Richards that we won’t be praising her third album in 2017). Grade: A”

 

--Brian Baker, CINCINNATI CITY BEAT

 

 

 

“...a fine album that recalls the psych-country of Cali-coastal acts such as Beachwood Sparks and Graham Parsons.”

 

--Michael Ayers, AOL SPINNER

 

 

 

“Richards melds her ethereal vocals with a gentle lyricism, dusky melodicism and a wellspring of country, acoustic dream pop, folk and meditative melancholy. Songs like ‘Breathless,’ ‘Life Boat’ (released last year as a European single) and first stateside single “Early November” rival anything from likeminded artists. For example, ‘Hideaway’ marries Aimee Mann’s rueful honesty with Fiona Apple’s art-pop luster. Civil kiss-off ‘Savorin’ Your Smile’ links Hope Sandoval’s slowcore sensuousness with the Cowboy Junkies sedative country tendencies. Reverb and subtle revolt ground the stirring anti-war ballad ‘That Baby.’ Light of X has a sepia tone that works best with detailed concentration, so listeners can tune into Richards’ hints, clues and intimate truths.”

 

--Doug Simpson, CAMPUS CIRCLE

 

 

 

“Miranda Lee Richards-This songbird grew up amid the bohemia of 1970s San Francisco, which fed her adoration for folk ballads and psychedelic rock. LIGHT OF X mixes those genres with a woozy hand, yielding a number of lilting, echoing gems. Look for the album on February 10--just in time to combat the winter doldrums with hazy California folk. “

 

--Andrew Leahey, WASHINGTON TIMES

 

 

 

“It's tough not to be attracted to someone who describes her music as ‘psychedelic chamber folk rock.’ Others have more accurately termed it ‘ambient Americana’ yet no matter what labels you choose to use, there's something hypnotic and captivating about Miranda Lee Richards' LIGHT OF X. A former member of Brian Jonestown Massacre, Richards' supple vocals occasionally evoke traces of the best side of Natalie Merchant. And with producer/engineer/mixer Rick Parker by her side, she's constructed a dream-weaving, highly-atmospheric set, sometimes turning in steel-splashed, alt-country material like ‘Savorin' Your Smile,’ sometimes showing her growling and passionate side (‘Mirror at the End’) and frequently giving us a taste of her melodic grace, like on the slowly pulsating first single ‘Early November.’

 

--Kevin O’Hare, NEWHOUSE NEWS WIRE

 

 

 

"Featuring 12 gentle and delicate alterna-pop songs, LIGHT OF X highlights Richards' strongest asset-her clear yet ethereal voice."

 

--Kim Newman, VENUS

 

 

 

"You would expect that with a name like Miranda Lee Richards that raw blues would be part of the repertoire.  Long legs in long boots, deep and piercing eyes and a chilling folk blues approach that knocked me over. Belonging to the modern visceral genre of The Pierces and Florence and the Machine yet with clear influences of The Byrds, The Stones and even Eva Cassidy, Miranda Lee Richards showed an experience and attitude greater than her years.  While she wore a big smile that engaged the audience there was a mystery and air of wicked rebellion in her eyes.  This came through in her music.  Potent tunes of warmth on the outside but with dark overtones signaled the eerie wariness of a cat waiting to pounce. I was on the edge of being entrapped, terrified and falling in love at the same time. Her first song ‘Savouring Your Smile’ was a melodic pop tune with gentle harmonica and guitar, and part of the lulling process. ‘Olive Tree’ then told of missing hearts and a wistful sadness before she introduced Life Boat, a new vinyl-only single release that reminded me more of Scottish folk than something of hipster San Francisco origin.  Her only cover came next, Bob Dylan’s ‘She Belongs To Me’, and her repetitive Dylanesque vocals took us to another time. The trance continued as her pure blues ‘Swamp Song’ ventured into John Lee territory and all that was missing was a foot-tapping accompaniment; this was stripped down and intimate.  Miranda told us that she had left the required harmonica behind so we were going to get a nude version. ‘Swamp’ exposed her extraordinary talent for the understated. Talking to her afterwards she explained the thrill of giving the audience nothing in terms of clues and delighted in holding back in order to remain mysterious.  She agreed that a full blues band as backing could take the sound up and over, but for now the feelings of loss and restitution were best served by solo slots such as this.  ‘Worth’ reminded me of the Cowboy Junkies mixed with tones of Ry Cooder before ‘Early November’ ended the set in a catchier encore-like fashion.  Miranda told me her new album, as yet untitled, is out early next year (an evolutionary follow-up to The Herethereafter from 2001) and that she is simply expanding her road experience perhaps in readiness for a larger tour to promote its eventual release.  I’ll be waiting."

 

--Gareth Hayes, BLUES IN BRITTAIN

 

 

 

"Largo fits like a glove for Miranda Lee Richards. The model-turned singer/songwriter played to a near capacity crowd at the relocated Fairfax hideout Thursday night, with a setlist that proved all evidence to Richards' listening-room only status. It was the stripped nature of her Light of X repertoire that became the centerpiece of her set. Considering the airy folk/pop essence of Richards' writing, the singer/songwriter trifecta of guitar, piano, and harmonica accompaniment fared all too fitting in the quiet solo setting. A live backing group would have only hindered Richards' signature inflections; while unlikely timed, the subtle vocal marks of pain and pleasure are pure, and pure evokes the kind of honesty demanded by her works. While Largo does have a strict no-talking/no-distraction policy, the crowd's magnetic attention wasn't owed to venue rules -- it was owed to Richards' songs convincing that not one note, lyric, or moment be spared.”

 

--Hugo Gomez THE DELI MAGAZINE

 

 

 

"Richard’s voice is powerful, but she rarely wields it that way.  The childlike chanteuse prefers to be a lullaby singer, and with a top notch band keeping equally restrained behind her, she let the melodic grace of her comeback Light of X’s gossamer folk and canyon rock preside.  One hears heart music when her sonorous, bird-like voice appears, as simple, homespun, and unaffected as her hippy-vestige dress.  Most often she strums a guitar or massages a keyboard as lightly as her vocal delivery, fresh examples of how “soft is the new loud.”  Or, on the tunes requiring belting, especially showstopper “Early November,” she betrayed passion to go with smiling charm, talent, and wholesome blonde ex-model looks.  In the end, she made hipster-central seem like an enchanted coffee house.  How’d she pull that one off?

 

--Jack Rabid, The Big Takeover

 

 

 

“Former Brian Jonestown Massacre member Miranda Lee Richards debuted new material from her forthcoming solo album in Los Angeles last night (November 19, ‘08). Richards, who learned to play the guitar from Metallica's Kirk Hammett, performed her wistful pop-rock tunes for a packed house at Tangier. She played several tracks off of LIGHT OF X, which is due out in the U.S. on February 10 and features Mazzy Star's Keith Mitchell on drums and Josh Schwartz of Beachwood Sparks on guitar."

 

--Laura Ferreiro, NME.com (Live review)

 

 

"Possibly keeping the peace by momentarily standing in between the Reids was L.A.-based guest vocalist Miranda Lee Richards. (You may remember her from the rockmumetary Dig, in which she stares at the camera and begs Brian Jonestown Massacre basket case Anton Newcombe, "Please don't die!") Miranda sang the girly part of "Just Like Honey" last night, and though she may not have as marquee-worthy a name as Scarlett Johansson, I must say she did a better job."

 

--Lyndsey Parker, NME.com

 

 

 

"For my first official showcase of South By Southwest 2010 I chose the St. David Episcopal Church and Miranda Lee Richards. The former member of Brian Jonestown Massacre hasn't been through St. Louis in maybe nine years (correct me if I'm wrong; that's what Miranda recalls), but her 2009 album Light of X and her first solo album The Herethereafter are as pure as neo-psych-folk-adult-contemporary-pop get. This night she appeared with just guitar, harmonica and a sideman on 12-string and cigar box slide, a grittier presentation than I would have guessed. In the sanctuary, she sounded like nothing so much as a dreamier Patty Griffin, and when she closed out the night with two songs on the Steinway baby grand, not even the fools shooting with flash could distract her or the small crowd from the breathtaking beauty of her songs. That will be the set to beat this year.

 

--Roy Kasten, The Riverfront Times Blog

 

 

 

“On LIGHT OF X, Richards sounds like a Southern California incarnation of ethereal Canadians Sarah McLachlan and Loreena McKennitt, dressing these 12 tracks with warmly swelling melodies; poetic, melancholy lyrics; carefully nuanced arrangements; and smooth dynamics that ebb and flow in a low-key manner.”

 

--Gary Graff, BILLBOARD

 

 

 

"The soft but assured vocals of Miranda Lee Richards cast a glow upon the delicate, 60's inspired folk-pop on her new CD, LIGHT OF X (Nettwerk). The chiming guitars, strings and piano shine with a melancholy dreaminess, and so do Richards's lyrics. (‘Finally, there's something/I can hold onto that isn't broken’)."

 

--Scott Frampton, O (THE OPRAH MAGAZINE)

 

 

 

“A mash-up of Mazzy Star’s etherealness and Lucinda Williams’ folksy lyricism creates a composite of wind, sea and cotton-soft tracks that have a familiar, time-tested feeling. This Cali-coastal coolness is something Richards refers to as ‘Psychedelic Chamber Folk Rock’ equally soothing as the sun’s breaking or setting.”

 

--Laura Schooling, ANGELENO

 

 

 

 “The Herethereafter, the debut album from Los Angeles based singer/songwriter Miranda Lee Richards, was one of my favorite albums of the early part of this decade. Nearly eight years later, Richards returns with Light Of X, twelve tracks (plus one hidden track) that more than deliver on the promise of that first record. Like its predecessor, Light Of X is a mixture of folk, rock, and psychedelia, though with a little less emphasis on the latter this time out. Richards calls the music found here ‘Psychedelic Chamber Folk Rock,’ the ‘Chamber’ part referring to the lovely string arrangements that appear on some of the songs. Since Richards released her last record, her singing voice and her songwriting abilities have matured: Light Of X represents both a continuation of The Herethereafter and a progression forward. It’s a elegant and lovely work, filled with warmth and compassion, and it’s done with enough intelligence and built in resistance to easy sentimentality that it should appeal to even those listeners for whom the word ‘folk’ is a red flag. It’s enough to give ‘Pixie Fairy Dust Chick Music’ (as Courtney Taylor from the Dandy Warhols teasingly refers to Richards’ music) a good name. Standout cuts: ‘Breathless,’ ‘Life Boat,’ ‘Early November’ and ‘Last Days Of Summer.’

 

--THIS IS JUST A MODERN ROCK BLOG

 

 

 

“Her latest album, LIGHT OF X is arranged for maximum magic-hour scintillation, and Richards' willowy voice brings deceptively cutting lyrics to life."

 

--August Brown, LOS ANGELES TIMES

 

 

 

“Part of L.A.’s tastemaking Hotel Café scene, boho pop-folkie Richards has been kicking around the music scene for the past decade, collaborating with the Brian Jonestown Massacre and Joe Brion and licensing songs to film and TV. Light of X, helmed by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club producer Rick Parker, is a subtly crafted platter of dreamy, Mazzy Starr-meets-One Tree Hill pop. ‘Am I crazy, or are you blind?’ Richards asks over a gently chugging rhythm on ‘Early November.’ As with the cryptic single ‘Lifeboat’ (‘Freedom, my love, is a double-sided coin/What have you done to earn your keep?’), the answer’s not in the lyrics; it’s in the ride over waves of brooding electric guitar, piano and pedal steel, and the melancholy contours of Richards’ soprano."

 

--Bliss Bowen, FADE IN

 

 

 

“...when some darkness descends, as on ‘Pictures of You,’ her perky nature adds a bittersweet twist to the added emotional weight.”

 

--Andy Fyfe, Q

 

 

 

“In 2001, Richards made a dreamy little pop record that hardly anyone heard, but it'll be hard to ignore her when her sophomore release, LIGHT OF X (Nettwerk), arrives Feb. 10. The boho-chic California native really honed her sound in the interim, even if she rarely stays in one spot for long on the new album. One minute she sounds like a sun-kissed pop chanteuse, the next she's channeling a dusky torch singer reminiscent of Cat Power. Miranda wrote all the songs on X, but her supporting cast brings a wealth of obvious influences: drummer Keith Mitchell (Mazzy Star), bassist Eva Gardner (Mars Volta), and guitarist Josh Schwartz (Beachwood Sparks).”

 

--James Reed, BOSTON GLOBE

 

 

 

“[The songs] are triumphant, even exultant…the songs on this ol’ long-player manage to bridge the gap between melancholy and aw-shucks happiness, like the freedom found in finally letting go of all that once was good to you…Light of X is good when the lights are out and all around is dark.”

 

--Dan Collins, L.A. RECORD

 

 

 

”Glorious sun-dappled cosmic country from the one-time BJM associate. Like Mazzy Star blinking into the morning light, the yellow vinyl makes it even more sunny.”

 

-- NME

 

 

 

“Her long-awaited follow-up album, the new LIGHT OF X (Nettwerk), produced by Rick Parker, charms with delicate, carefully rendered balladry and gently laid-back pop tunes. There’s a hint of country music and wide-open spaces with Ben Peeler’s pedal-steel adornments on ‘Savorin’ Your Smile’ and ‘Olive Tree,’ and Richards’ radiant voice lights up the dusky guitar riffs of ‘Early November.’ She gives good jangle on the power-pop reverie ‘Pictures of You,’ while Parker frames her solemn piano chords with shimmering guitar plucking on the ballad ‘Here by the Window,’ which builds a haunting momentum with bluesy grandeur.”

 

--Falling James, LA WEEKLY

 

 

 

 “As ever, while the bigwigs look for the next female singer-songwriter with the perfect package of deep musical talent and great looks in all the wrong places— karaoke bars, shopping malls, and strip clubs, by the look of it —the genuine article sneaked through the back door unnoticed and unannounced. Miranda Lee Richards offered her lovely debut The Herethereafter in 2001, and spent most of the time following that release touring, showing up in hip indie films like Ondi Timoner’s Dig!, and performing with the likes of the Jesus and Mary Chain and Tim Burgess of the Charlatans. Now, with her debut for Nettwerk records, Richards has crafted a gorgeous collection of softly lit chamber-folk songs that highlight her lilting, understated singing. Think Mazzy Starr after a few cups of coffee. The production is warm and billowing, but the generous amounts of reverb only underscore Richards’ subtle, dreamy singing, never obscuring it. Sensitive, mellow, deeply feminine folk music that isn’t boring or overtly precious—well, that’s a rare thing. Light of X is stuffed with it.”

 

--Jeff Miers, BUFFALO NEWS

 

 

 

“Eight years ago, Miranda Lee Richards released her astonishing debut, The Herethereafter, to a cynical, just barely post-9/11 world that somehow didn’t understand her contemporary spin on ’60s Psychedelia and Folk, taking her cues from The Stones, The Doors, Nick Drake and the Mamas and the Papas. I fell hard for the album and her incredible backstory (daughter of underground cartoonists, took guitar lessons from Kirk Hammett as a teenager, professional modeling career, sang with the Brian Jonestown Massacre). Beginning where she left off on The Herethereafter, Richards eases into Light of X with ‘Breathless,’ a gorgeous piano ballad that effortlessly reprises her debut’s stunningly hushed closer, ‘The Landscape,’ based on a poem by Baudelaire. Richards intones emotionally ‘Before I met you, my life was a series of chances/Before I met you, my mind it was racing all the time,’ accompanied by a soundtrack that would make Fleetwood Mac green with Pop envy. Richards invests Light of X with a psychedelic SoCal cowgirl vibe, from the shimmering and ethereally grounded ‘Lifeboat’ to the Cowboy Junkies moan of ‘Mirror at the End.’ At the same time, she deftly channels a little Sarah McLachlan Pop into ‘Hideaway’ and casts a darker Nick Cave pall over ‘Early November,’ at least until brightening slightly for the jangly chorus…Here’s hoping that minds and ears are a little more open in 2009 (and a hopeful wish to Richards that we won’t be praising her third album in 2017). Grade: A”

 

--Brian Baker, CINCINNATI CITY BEAT

 

 

 

“...a fine album that recalls the psych-country of Cali-coastal acts such as Beachwood Sparks and Graham Parsons.”

 

--Michael Ayers, AOL SPINNER

 

 

 

“Richards melds her ethereal vocals with a gentle lyricism, dusky melodicism and a wellspring of country, acoustic dream pop, folk and meditative melancholy. Songs like ‘Breathless,’ ‘Life Boat’ (released last year as a European single) and first stateside single “Early November” rival anything from likeminded artists. For example, ‘Hideaway’ marries Aimee Mann’s rueful honesty with Fiona Apple’s art-pop luster. Civil kiss-off ‘Savorin’ Your Smile’ links Hope Sandoval’s slowcore sensuousness with the Cowboy Junkies sedative country tendencies. Reverb and subtle revolt ground the stirring anti-war ballad ‘That Baby.’ Light of X has a sepia tone that works best with detailed concentration, so listeners can tune into Richards’ hints, clues and intimate truths.”

 

--Doug Simpson, CAMPUS CIRCLE

 

 

 

“Miranda Lee Richards-This songbird grew up amid the bohemia of 1970s San Francisco, which fed her adoration for folk ballads and psychedelic rock. LIGHT OF X mixes those genres with a woozy hand, yielding a number of lilting, echoing gems. Look for the album on February 10--just in time to combat the winter doldrums with hazy California folk.“

 

--Andrew Leahey, WASHINGTON TIMES

 

 

 

“It's tough not to be attracted to someone who describes her music as ‘psychedelic chamber folk rock.’ Others have more accurately termed it ‘ambient Americana’ yet no matter what labels you choose to use, there's something hypnotic and captivating about Miranda Lee Richards' LIGHT OF X. A former member of Brian Jonestown Massacre, Richards' supple vocals occasionally evoke traces of the best side of Natalie Merchant. And with producer/engineer/mixer Rick Parker by her side, she's constructed a dream-weaving, highly-atmospheric set, sometimes turning in steel-splashed, alt-country material like ‘Savorin' Your Smile,’ sometimes showing her growling and passionate side (‘Mirror at the End’) and frequently giving us a taste of her melodic grace, like on the slowly pulsating first single ‘Early November.’

 

--Kevin O’Hare, NEWHOUSE NEWS WIRE

 

 

 

"Featuring 12 gentle and delicate alterna-pop songs, LIGHT OF X highlights Richards' strongest asset-her clear yet ethereal voice."

 

--Kim Newman, VENUS

 

 

 

"You would expect that with a name like Miranda Lee Richards that raw blues would be part of the repertoire.  Long legs in long boots, deep and piercing eyes and a chilling folk blues approach that knocked me over. Belonging to the modern visceral genre of The Pierces and Florence and the Machine yet with clear influences of The Byrds, The Stones and even Eva Cassidy, Miranda Lee Richards showed an experience and attitude greater than her years.  While she wore a big smile that engaged the audience there was a mystery and air of wicked rebellion in her eyes.  This came through in her music.  Potent tunes of warmth on the outside but with dark overtones signaled the eerie wariness of a cat waiting to pounce. I was on the edge of being entrapped, terrified and falling in love at the same time. Her first song ‘Savouring Your Smile’ was a melodic pop tune with gentle harmonica and guitar, and part of the lulling process. ‘Olive Tree’ then told of missing hearts and a wistful sadness before she introduced Life Boat, a new vinyl-only single release that reminded me more of Scottish folk than something of hipster San Francisco origin.  Her only cover came next, Bob Dylan’s ‘She Belongs To Me’, and her repetitive Dylanesque vocals took us to another time. The trance continued as her pure blues ‘Swamp Song’ ventured into John Lee territory and all that was missing was a foot-tapping accompaniment; this was stripped down and intimate.  Miranda told us that she had left the required harmonica behind so we were going to get a nude version. ‘Swamp’ exposed her extraordinary talent for the understated. Talking to her afterwards she explained the thrill of giving the audience nothing in terms of clues and delighted in holding back in order to remain mysterious.  She agreed that a full blues band as backing could take the sound up and over, but for now the feelings of loss and restitution were best served by solo slots such as this.  ‘Worth’ reminded me of the Cowboy Junkies mixed with tones of Ry Cooder before ‘Early November’ ended the set in a catchier encore-like fashion.  Miranda told me her new album, as yet untitled, is out early next year (an evolutionary follow-up to The Herethereafter from 2001) and that she is simply expanding her road experience perhaps in readiness for a larger tour to promote its eventual release.  I’ll be waiting."

 

--Gareth Hayes, BLUES IN BRITTAIN

 

 

 

"Largo fits like a glove for Miranda Lee Richards. The model-turned singer/songwriter played to a near capacity crowd at the relocated Fairfax hideout Thursday night, with a setlist that proved all evidence to Richards' listening-room only status. It was the stripped nature of her Light of X repertoire that became the centerpiece of her set. Considering the airy folk/pop essence of Richards' writing, the singer/songwriter trifecta of guitar, piano, and harmonica accompaniment fared all too fitting in the quiet solo setting. A live backing group would have only hindered Richards' signature inflections; while unlikely timed, the subtle vocal marks of pain and pleasure are pure, and pure evokes the kind of honesty demanded by her works. While Largo does have a strict no-talking/no-distraction policy, the crowd's magnetic attention wasn't owed to venue rules -- it was owed to Richards' songs convincing that not one note, lyric, or moment be spared.”

 

--Hugo Gomez THE DELI MAGAZINE

 

 

 

"Richard’s voice is powerful, but she rarely wields it that way.  The childlike chanteuse prefers to be a lullaby singer, and with a top notch band keeping equally restrained behind her, she let the melodic grace of her comeback Light of X’s gossamer folk and canyon rock preside.  One hears heart music when her sonorous, bird-like voice appears, as simple, homespun, and unaffected as her hippy-vestige dress.  Most often she strums a guitar or massages a keyboard as lightly as her vocal delivery, fresh examples of how “soft is the new loud.”  Or, on the tunes requiring belting, especially showstopper “Early November,” she betrayed passion to go with smiling charm, talent, and wholesome blonde ex-model looks.  In the end, she made hipster-central seem like an enchanted coffee house.  How’d she pull that one off?

 

--Jack Rabid, The Big Takeover

 

 

 

“Former Brian Jonestown Massacre member Miranda Lee Richards debuted new material from her forthcoming solo album in Los Angeles last night (November 19, ‘08). Richards, who learned to play the guitar from Metallica's Kirk Hammett, performed her wistful pop-rock tunes for a packed house at Tangier. She played several tracks off of LIGHT OF X, which is due out in the U.S. on February 10 and features Mazzy Star's Keith Mitchell on drums and Josh Schwartz of Beachwood Sparks on guitar."

 

--Laura Ferreiro, NME.com (Live review)

 

 

"Possibly keeping the peace by momentarily standing in between the Reids was L.A.-based guest vocalist Miranda Lee Richards. (You may remember her from the rockmumetary Dig, in which she stares at the camera and begs Brian Jonestown Massacre basket case Anton Newcombe, "Please don't die!") Miranda sang the girly part of "Just Like Honey" last night, and though she may not have as marquee-worthy a name as Scarlett Johansson, I must say she did a better job."

 

--Lyndsey Parker, NME.com

 

 

 

"For my first official showcase of South By Southwest 2010 I chose the St. David Episcopal Church and Miranda Lee Richards. The former member of Brian Jonestown Massacre hasn't been through St. Louis in maybe nine years (correct me if I'm wrong; that's what Miranda recalls), but her 2009 album Light of X and her first solo album The Herethereafter are as pure as neo-psych-folk-adult-contemporary-pop get. This night she appeared with just guitar, harmonica and a sideman on 12-string and cigar box slide, a grittier presentation than I would have guessed. In the sanctuary, she sounded like nothing so much as a dreamier Patty Griffin, and when she closed out the night with two songs on the Steinway baby grand, not even the fools shooting with flash could distract her or the small crowd from the breathtaking beauty of her songs. That will be the set to beat this year.

 

--Roy Kasten, The Riverfront Times Blog

 

 

“The follow-up to her debut album evokes her Cali dream-pop heroes Mazzy Star, although Richards' music is airier and poppier — think of it as freak folk with just a schmear of freak. ‘Life Boat’ is a big, warm hug with dub effects, pedal steel and hash-den tambourine; ‘Mirror at the End’ sports a chorus big enough for Sheryl Crow. Delivered in a pure, unblemished voice, even the sad songs are comforting…

 

--Will Hermes, ROLLING STONE

 

 

 

"Another L.A.-based artist, Miranda Lee Richards, has veered from the trendy norm, with her latest release, LIGHT OF X (Nettwerk). Sonic portraits of Joni Mitchell and Emmylou Harris color almost every track of this album (particularly ‘Hideaway’ and ‘Hidden Treasure’), and Richards feels no need to disguise her nod to these luminaries--nor should she. The singer successfully channels her hippie-princess vibe through wah-wah pedal steel and lithe soprano, resulting in retro-leaning, Baroque folk-pop perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon. X reminds us, once again, that the creative Mecca Laurel Canyon is not just a place but also a sound and state of mind. "

 

--Jessica Draper, PERFORMING SONGWRITER

 

 

 

“The dreaminess that made The Herethereafter so appealing, and popular with film and TV soundtracks, is still there. If anything, she’s dreamier, the tempos a little more down, the mood more twilit. Her songs and vocals are as likely to be accompanied by piano (Breathless) and cello (Hidden Treasures) as acoustic guitar and pedal steel.

 

--SS, MOJO

 

 

 

“California country has always been as much about evoking a magic-hour atmosphere as the genre’s traditional strum-and-twang. Richards’ new album, Light of X, is as beguiling and witchy as Joni Mitchell but also dripped in reverb, distant pedal steel and Richards’ tender alto.

 

--LOS ANGELES TIMES

 

 

 

“Seven years after her critically lauded debut, Richards returns…with touches of airy psychedelia and loping country. The album is full of airy beauty and precious melodies sung in an angelic voice.”

 

--Frank Valish, UNDER THE RADAR

 

 

 

“A self-described practitioner of ‘psychedelic chamber folk rock,’ San Francisco hippie child Miranda Lee Richards certainly has her fair share of friends. She was schooled in rock by her buddy's boyfriend, Metallica's Kirk Hammett, and teamed up with Jon Brion and producer Rick Parker (the Von Bondies, BRMC) for her critically acclaimed debut, The Herethereafter. Fans of that disc were pleased to find her newest record, LIGHT OF X travels similarly moody terrain, employing equally impressive support from the likes of Mars Volta bassist Eva Gardner, Mazzy Star drummer Keith Mitchell, and Beachwood Sparks guitarist Josh Schwartz.”

 

--FLAVORPILL

 

 

 

“On LIGHT OF X, Richards sounds like a Southern California incarnation of ethereal Canadians Sarah McLachlan and Loreena McKennitt, dressing these 12 tracks with warmly swelling melodies; poetic, melancholy lyrics; carefully nuanced arrangements; and smooth dynamics that ebb and flow in a low-key manner.”

 

--Gary Graff, BILLBOARD

 

 

 

"The soft but assured vocals of Miranda Lee Richards cast a glow upon the delicate, 60's inspired folk-pop on her new CD, LIGHT OF X (Nettwerk). The chiming guitars, strings and piano shine with a melancholy dreaminess, and so do Richards's lyrics. (‘Finally, there's something/I can hold onto that isn't broken’)."

 

--Scott Frampton, O (THE OPRAH MAGAZINE)

 

 

 

“A mash-up of Mazzy Star’s etherealness and Lucinda Williams’ folksy lyricism creates a composite of wind, sea and cotton-soft tracks that have a familiar, time-tested feeling. This Cali-coastal coolness is something Richards refers to as ‘Psychedelic Chamber Folk Rock’ equally soothing as the sun’s breaking or setting.”

 

--Laura Schooling, ANGELENO

 

 

 

 “The Herethereafter, the debut album from Los Angeles based singer/songwriter Miranda Lee Richards, was one of my favorite albums of the early part of this decade. Nearly eight years later, Richards returns with Light Of X, twelve tracks (plus one hidden track) that more than deliver on the promise of that first record. Like its predecessor, Light Of X is a mixture of folk, rock, and psychedelia, though with a little less emphasis on the latter this time out. Richards calls the music found here ‘Psychedelic Chamber Folk Rock,’ the ‘Chamber’ part referring to the lovely string arrangements that appear on some of the songs. Since Richards released her last record, her singing voice and her songwriting abilities have matured: Light Of X represents both a continuation of The Herethereafter and a progression forward. It’s a elegant and lovely work, filled with warmth and compassion, and it’s done with enough intelligence and built in resistance to easy sentimentality that it should appeal to even those listeners for whom the word ‘folk’ is a red flag. It’s enough to give ‘Pixie Fairy Dust Chick Music’ (as Courtney Taylor from the Dandy Warhols teasingly refers to Richards’ music) a good name. Standout cuts: ‘Breathless,’ ‘Life Boat,’ ‘Early November’ and ‘Last Days Of Summer.’

 

--THIS IS JUST A MODERN ROCK BLOG

 

 

 

“Her latest album, LIGHT OF X is arranged for maximum magic-hour scintillation, and Richards' willowy voice brings deceptively cutting lyrics to life."

 

--August Brown, LOS ANGELES TIMES

 

 

 

“Part of L.A.’s tastemaking Hotel Café scene, boho pop-folkie Richards has been kicking around the music scene for the past decade, collaborating with the Brian Jonestown Massacre and Joe Brion and licensing songs to film and TV. Light of X, helmed by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club producer Rick Parker, is a subtly crafted platter of dreamy, Mazzy Starr-meets-One Tree Hill pop. ‘Am I crazy, or are you blind?’ Richards asks over a gently chugging rhythm on ‘Early November.’ As with the cryptic single ‘Lifeboat’ (‘Freedom, my love, is a double-sided coin/What have you done to earn your keep?’), the answer’s not in the lyrics; it’s in the ride over waves of brooding electric guitar, piano and pedal steel, and the melancholy contours of Richards’ soprano."

 

--Bliss Bowen, FADE IN

 

 

 

“...when some darkness descends, as on ‘Pictures of You,’ her perky nature adds a bittersweet twist to the added emotional weight.”

 

--Andy Fyfe, Q

 

 

 

“In 2001, Richards made a dreamy little pop record that hardly anyone heard, but it'll be hard to ignore her when her sophomore release, LIGHT OF X (Nettwerk), arrives Feb. 10. The boho-chic California native really honed her sound in the interim, even if she rarely stays in one spot for long on the new album. One minute she sounds like a sun-kissed pop chanteuse, the next she's channeling a dusky torch singer reminiscent of Cat Power. Miranda wrote all the songs on X, but her supporting cast brings a wealth of obvious influences: drummer Keith Mitchell (Mazzy Star), bassist Eva Gardner (Mars Volta), and guitarist Josh Schwartz (Beachwood Sparks).”

 

--James Reed, BOSTON GLOBE

 

 

 

“[The songs] are triumphant, even exultant…the songs on this ol’ long-player manage to bridge the gap between melancholy and aw-shucks happiness, like the freedom found in finally letting go of all that once was good to you…Light of X is good when the lights are out and all around is dark.”

 

--Dan Collins, L.A. RECORD

 

 

 

”Glorious sun-dappled cosmic country from the one-time BJM associate. Like Mazzy Star blinking into the morning light, the yellow vinyl makes it even more sunny.”

 

-- NME

 

 

 

“Her long-awaited follow-up album, the new LIGHT OF X (Nettwerk), produced by Rick Parker, charms with delicate, carefully rendered balladry and gently laid-back pop tunes. There’s a hint of country music and wide-open spaces with Ben Peeler’s pedal-steel adornments on ‘Savorin’ Your Smile’ and ‘Olive Tree,’ and Richards’ radiant voice lights up the dusky guitar riffs of ‘Early November.’ She gives good jangle on the power-pop reverie ‘Pictures of You,’ while Parker frames her solemn piano chords with shimmering guitar plucking on the ballad ‘Here by the Window,’ which builds a haunting momentum with bluesy grandeur.”

 

--Falling James, LA WEEKLY

 

 

 

 “As ever, while the bigwigs look for the next female singer-songwriter with the perfect package of deep musical talent and great looks in all the wrong places— karaoke bars, shopping malls, and strip clubs, by the look of it —the genuine article sneaked through the back door unnoticed and unannounced. Miranda Lee Richards offered her lovely debut The Herethereafter in 2001, and spent most of the time following that release touring, showing up in hip indie films like Ondi Timoner’s Dig!, and performing with the likes of the Jesus and Mary Chain and Tim Burgess of the Charlatans. Now, with her debut for Nettwerk records, Richards has crafted a gorgeous collection of softly lit chamber-folk songs that highlight her lilting, understated singing. Think Mazzy Starr after a few cups of coffee. The production is warm and billowing, but the generous amounts of reverb only underscore Richards’ subtle, dreamy singing, never obscuring it. Sensitive, mellow, deeply feminine folk music that isn’t boring or overtly precious—well, that’s a rare thing. Light of X is stuffed with it.”

 

--Jeff Miers, BUFFALO NEWS

 

 

 

“Eight years ago, Miranda Lee Richards released her astonishing debut, The Herethereafter, to a cynical, just barely post-9/11 world that somehow didn’t understand her contemporary spin on ’60s Psychedelia and Folk, taking her cues from The Stones, The Doors, Nick Drake and the Mamas and the Papas. I fell hard for the album and her incredible backstory (daughter of underground cartoonists, took guitar lessons from Kirk Hammett as a teenager, professional modeling career, sang with the Brian Jonestown Massacre). Beginning where she left off on The Herethereafter, Richards eases into Light of X with ‘Breathless,’ a gorgeous piano ballad that effortlessly reprises her debut’s stunningly hushed closer, ‘The Landscape,’ based on a poem by Baudelaire. Richards intones emotionally ‘Before I met you, my life was a series of chances/Before I met you, my mind it was racing all the time,’ accompanied by a soundtrack that would make Fleetwood Mac green with Pop envy. Richards invests Light of X with a psychedelic SoCal cowgirl vibe, from the shimmering and ethereally grounded ‘Lifeboat’ to the Cowboy Junkies moan of ‘Mirror at the End.’ At the same time, she deftly channels a little Sarah McLachlan Pop into ‘Hideaway’ and casts a darker Nick Cave pall over ‘Early November,’ at least until brightening slightly for the jangly chorus…Here’s hoping that minds and ears are a little more open in 2009 (and a hopeful wish to Richards that we won’t be praising her third album in 2017). Grade: A”

 

--Brian Baker, CINCINNATI CITY BEAT

 

 

 

“...a fine album that recalls the psych-country of Cali-coastal acts such as Beachwood Sparks and Graham Parsons.”

 

--Michael Ayers, AOL SPINNER

 

 

 

“Richards melds her ethereal vocals with a gentle lyricism, dusky melodicism and a wellspring of country, acoustic dream pop, folk and meditative melancholy. Songs like ‘Breathless,’ ‘Life Boat’ (released last year as a European single) and first stateside single “Early November” rival anything from likeminded artists. For example, ‘Hideaway’ marries Aimee Mann’s rueful honesty with Fiona Apple’s art-pop luster. Civil kiss-off ‘Savorin’ Your Smile’ links Hope Sandoval’s slowcore sensuousness with the Cowboy Junkies sedative country tendencies. Reverb and subtle revolt ground the stirring anti-war ballad ‘That Baby.’ Light of X has a sepia tone that works best with detailed concentration, so listeners can tune into Richards’ hints, clues and intimate truths.”

 

--Doug Simpson, CAMPUS CIRCLE

 

 

 

“Miranda Lee Richards-This songbird grew up amid the bohemia of 1970s San Francisco, which fed her adoration for folk ballads and psychedelic rock. LIGHT OF X mixes those genres with a woozy hand, yielding a number of lilting, echoing gems. Look for the album on February 10--just in time to combat the winter doldrums with hazy California folk.“

 

--Andrew Leahey, WASHINGTON TIMES

 

 

 

“It's tough not to be attracted to someone who describes her music as ‘psychedelic chamber folk rock.’ Others have more accurately termed it ‘ambient Americana’ yet no matter what labels you choose to use, there's something hypnotic and captivating about Miranda Lee Richards' LIGHT OF X. A former member of Brian Jonestown Massacre, Richards' supple vocals occasionally evoke traces of the best side of Natalie Merchant. And with producer/engineer/mixer Rick Parker by her side, she's constructed a dream-weaving, highly-atmospheric set, sometimes turning in steel-splashed, alt-country material like ‘Savorin' Your Smile,’ sometimes showing her growling and passionate side (‘Mirror at the End’) and frequently giving us a taste of her melodic grace, like on the slowly pulsating first single ‘Early November.’

 

--Kevin O’Hare, NEWHOUSE NEWS WIRE

 

 

 

"Featuring 12 gentle and delicate alterna-pop songs, LIGHT OF X highlights Richards' strongest asset-her clear yet ethereal voice."

 

--Kim Newman, VENUS

 

 

 

"You would expect that with a name like Miranda Lee Richards that raw blues would be part of the repertoire.  Long legs in long boots, deep and piercing eyes and a chilling folk blues approach that knocked me over. Belonging to the modern visceral genre of The Pierces and Florence and the Machine yet with clear influences of The Byrds, The Stones and even Eva Cassidy, Miranda Lee Richards showed an experience and attitude greater than her years.  While she wore a big smile that engaged the audience there was a mystery and air of wicked rebellion in her eyes.  This came through in her music.  Potent tunes of warmth on the outside but with dark overtones signaled the eerie wariness of a cat waiting to pounce. I was on the edge of being entrapped, terrified and falling in love at the same time. Her first song ‘Savouring Your Smile’ was a melodic pop tune with gentle harmonica and guitar, and part of the lulling process. ‘Olive Tree’ then told of missing hearts and a wistful sadness before she introduced Life Boat, a new vinyl-only single release that reminded me more of Scottish folk than something of hipster San Francisco origin.  Her only cover came next, Bob Dylan’s ‘She Belongs To Me’, and her repetitive Dylanesque vocals took us to another time. The trance continued as her pure blues ‘Swamp Song’ ventured into John Lee territory and all that was missing was a foot-tapping accompaniment; this was stripped down and intimate.  Miranda told us that she had left the required harmonica behind so we were going to get a nude version. ‘Swamp’ exposed her extraordinary talent for the understated. Talking to her afterwards she explained the thrill of giving the audience nothing in terms of clues and delighted in holding back in order to remain mysterious.  She agreed that a full blues band as backing could take the sound up and over, but for now the feelings of loss and restitution were best served by solo slots such as this.  ‘Worth’ reminded me of the Cowboy Junkies mixed with tones of Ry Cooder before ‘Early November’ ended the set in a catchier encore-like fashion.  Miranda told me her new album, as yet untitled, is out early next year (an evolutionary follow-up to The Herethereafter from 2001) and that she is simply expanding her road experience perhaps in readiness for a larger tour to promote its eventual release.  I’ll be waiting."

 

--Gareth Hayes, BLUES IN BRITTAIN

 

 

 

"Largo fits like a glove for Miranda Lee Richards. The model-turned singer/songwriter played to a near capacity crowd at the relocated Fairfax hideout Thursday night, with a setlist that proved all evidence to Richards' listening-room only status. It was the stripped nature of her Light of X repertoire that became the centerpiece of her set. Considering the airy folk/pop essence of Richards' writing, the singer/songwriter trifecta of guitar, piano, and harmonica accompaniment fared all too fitting in the quiet solo setting. A live backing group would have only hindered Richards' signature inflections; while unlikely timed, the subtle vocal marks of pain and pleasure are pure, and pure evokes the kind of honesty demanded by her works. While Largo does have a strict no-talking/no-distraction policy, the crowd's magnetic attention wasn't owed to venue rules -- it was owed to Richards' songs convincing that not one note, lyric, or moment be spared.”

 

--Hugo Gomez THE DELI MAGAZINE

 

 

 

"Richard’s voice is powerful, but she rarely wields it that way.  The childlike chanteuse prefers to be a lullaby singer, and with a top notch band keeping equally restrained behind her, she let the melodic grace of her comeback Light of X’s gossamer folk and canyon rock preside.  One hears heart music when her sonorous, bird-like voice appears, as simple, homespun, and unaffected as her hippy-vestige dress.  Most often she strums a guitar or massages a keyboard as lightly as her vocal delivery, fresh examples of how “soft is the new loud.”  Or, on the tunes requiring belting, especially showstopper “Early November,” she betrayed passion to go with smiling charm, talent, and wholesome blonde ex-model looks.  In the end, she made hipster-central seem like an enchanted coffee house.  How’d she pull that one off?

 

--Jack Rabid, The Big Takeover

 

 

 

“Former Brian Jonestown Massacre member Miranda Lee Richards debuted new material from her forthcoming solo album in Los Angeles last night (November 19, ‘08). Richards, who learned to play the guitar from Metallica's Kirk Hammett, performed her wistful pop-rock tunes for a packed house at Tangier. She played several tracks off of LIGHT OF X, which is due out in the U.S. on February 10 and features Mazzy Star's Keith Mitchell on drums and Josh Schwartz of Beachwood Sparks on guitar."

 

--Laura Ferreiro, NME.com (Live review)

 

 

"Possibly keeping the peace by momentarily standing in between the Reids was L.A.-based guest vocalist Miranda Lee Richards. (You may remember her from the rockmumetary Dig, in which she stares at the camera and begs Brian Jonestown Massacre basket case Anton Newcombe, "Please don't die!") Miranda sang the girly part of "Just Like Honey" last night, and though she may not have as marquee-worthy a name as Scarlett Johansson, I must say she did a better job."

 

--Lyndsey Parker, NME.com

 

 

 

"For my first official showcase of South By Southwest 2010 I chose the St. David Episcopal Church and Miranda Lee Richards. The former member of Brian Jonestown Massacre hasn't been through St. Louis in maybe nine years (correct me if I'm wrong; that's what Miranda recalls), but her 2009 album Light of X and her first solo album The Herethereafter are as pure as neo-psych-folk-adult-contemporary-pop get. This night she appeared with just guitar, harmonica and a sideman on 12-string and cigar box slide, a grittier presentation than I would have guessed. In the sanctuary, she sounded like nothing so much as a dreamier Patty Griffin, and when she closed out the night with two songs on the Steinway baby grand, not even the fools shooting with flash could distract her or the small crowd from the breathtaking beauty of her songs. That will be the set to beat this year.

 

--Roy Kasten, The Riverfront Times Blog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE HERETHEREAFTER PRESS:

 

 

Interview Magazine:

 

Billy Bob Flails, Ben Folds Fails, and Miranda Lee Sails

 

R. Crumb goddaughter Miranda Lee Richards tosses up a recipe for mescaline salad that calls for tape- looped guitars, sitars, Beatles-esque strings, some Stones psychedelia and a sprig of French romantic decadence  (Baudelaire's Flowers of Evil).  Given time and a taste for sin, she might well be the Marianne Faithfull for a new millennium.

 

--Henry Cobot Beck

 

Blender:

 

Once an underground rocker, Richards turns now to psychedelic pop for her solo debut

 

One might expect a singer formerly associated with the obscure 60's inspired San Francisco rock band Brian Jonestown Massacre to release a debut full of crazy underground rock and roll.  Instead, Miranda Lee Richards has crafted a rapturously tuneful album of soothing '60's pop melancholia, merging breathy melodies and richly orchestrated arrangements into moments of quiet, hypnotic intensity.  On some of the songs, (notably "The Long Goodbye" and her creamy cover of the Stone's "Dandelion"), she gets by with a little help from friends Jon Brion, who produces Aimee Mann, and That Dog drummer Joey Waronker.  With a mildly psychedelic sound rooted in strings, shimmering keyboards, and softly shifting drums, The Herethereafter is a stunning debut from one of pop's prettiest voices.

 

--Michael Moses

 

Paper Magazine:

 

Miranda Lee Richards is Ready to Rock

 

Miranda Lee Richards is ready to rock.  After supporting herself modeling for 10 years, she has recorded her first album.  Due in May, The Herethereafter (Virgin), is a trippy mixture of what she calls "pure psychedelic country-pop."  Raised in San Francisco, she began modeling when she was just 14.  "I tried to keep a low profile, but I ended up posted on every bus bench in L.A," says Richards, who began writing songs with her guitar, piano, and harmonica in her spare time.  She also found time to star in America Year Zero, a movie shot at Burning Man last September, in which she plays a somber young woman whose life is overflowing with messy drama.  It sounds far from her reality---these days, she's pretty happy about her new career---and her life in L.A.  "I love it, a lot of very creative people have moved here," she says.  "You only see the boobs and blonde hair in the summer."

 

--Jason Sellards

 

Pulse:

 

Just as John Lennon did with his 1971 classic Imagine, Miranda Lee Richards wanted "to make the most beautiful music in the world."  The 25-year old singer/songwriter achieves what she calls her "original vision" with her resplendent-sounding debut, The Herethereafter (Virgin).

 

Richards was born and raised in one of the Bay Area's more ultra-liberal environments and it was that hippie-esque carryover that afforded the 26-year-old the wherewithal to live in a tent upon her arrival in Los Angeles six years ago.  "I was pissed about that," Richards calmly reflects about the situation brought on because of her then-boyfriend.  "We were having problems in our relationship and that intensified it.  Yes, it was an issue."

 

After moving out of the tent, and into her own apartment, she soon began modeling for Calvin Klein, but it was playing "soft" music that would ultimately prevail.  "That’s what gave me focus in Los Angeles," she explains, "and made modeling bearable."  Needless to say, with her first single, "The Beginner," and her debut effort raising more than a few eyebrows, the sacrifices have obviously paid off.  "It took a little longer than I thought, but I also got lucky.  It can be very hard in L.A.," exclaims Richards.

 

--Keith Ryan Cartwright

 

Arts and Entertainment Preview:

 

Psychedelic Heaven

 

Miranda Lee Richards, an alumna of the Brian Jonestown Massacre, has a winning cross-generational appeal on her solo debut, The Herethereafter (Virgin). Baby boomers who haven't given up on the sixties will be thrilled with her gentle but authoritative command of melodic psychedelia. (If you thought the Beatles had it right with "Strawberry Fields" and the Stones had it right with "Dandelion," wonderfully updated here, you'll want to smoke a bongful of dried banana peels and stare at the sun.) Non-baby boomers will simply groove on the arrangements and marvel at her songwriting. She never lets the weirdness get in the way of the melodies, which is a miracle of taste in this Digital Age of Unlimited Noises. Lyrically, Richards manages to be personal without descending into the narcissism and excruciating relationship analysis that has flawed the work of many of her peers. Again, it's the sixties influence, the hippie vibe of freedom over societal constrictions. She's also been influenced by that master of nineteenth-century French psychedelia, Charles Baudelaire, whose poem "The Landscape" she adapts for a song. Baudelaire and Richards both are concerned with the transitory nature of beauty and life ("Seasons will pass 'til Autumn fades the rose"), and both believe in compensating with "the sinless Idyll of innocent words." Not a bad description of the Herethereafter.

 

--C.M.Y.

 

Music News of the World :

 

Getting to Know Miranda Lee Richards

 

The folks at the Red Devil bar in San Francisco were chattering away Wednesday night when L. A.-based folk-rocker Miranda Richards took the stage. But as soon as they got a glimpse of the stunning young singer/songwriter, and heard her sing, the talking stopped. Richards, who said she's been in the studio cutting demos with her band, sounds a bit like Mazzy Star's Hope Sandoval, and writes sad-core songs that Mark Eitzel would appreciate. Her cover of Bob Dylan's 'She Belongs to Me' was a stunner, but even more impressive was an original called 'Vagabond Angel.' Catch her now, so you can say you saw her when....

 

 

--Michael Goldberg

 

The Portable Infinite :

 

"I met the very beautiful Miranda Lee Richards years ago in the Lower Haight section on San Francisco. She seemed to be destined to have great things happen to her whatever she did. I didn't see her around for many years, and then I heard she had a record coming out this summer. Her album, The Herethereafter, is a perfect reflection of her own aesthetic. It's a mix of a poetic sensibility and pop music. The songs are very well written, full of great melodies and harmonies, just like her 60's heroes, The Rolling Stones and Gram Parsons. I remember Miranda as this poet and artist who was looking for her own voice. I didn't know what to expect.

I saw her play a few weeks later in San Francisco. Her sound was impressive. Songs like "The Beginner" and "Beauty Queen" seem like instant classics. With her partner, Rick Parker, they were able to blend rock and country, and alternative music and hip-hop, into a new cool hybrid form. I talked to both of them after the show, and they both seemed very down the earth and talk about the record they have spent the past year making. They seemed very excited to meet people and to present their music.

 

Miranda has been known in the past as a model. She is known also for her work with Brian Jonestown Massacre. But now she has her own record out and is scheduled to play a bunch of live shows this fall. We hung out at her sound check at The Bottom of The Hill. A film crew was filming us during our chat..."

 

-Alexander Laurence

 

The Herethereafter Top Ten:

 

* The Herethereafter #7 on Rolling Stone.com in 2001 Richard Skanse critic’s pick

 

* The Herethereafter in Gazette, The Colorado Springs Bill Reeds’ top ten

 

 

ALL MATERIAL © 2018 MIRANDA LEE RICHARDS