erasing clouds

Magic Apron, Orphan Harmony

reviewed by dave heaton

The mood set up by the shrine, surrounded by candles, on the album cover is exactly the mood of the album itself, Orphan Harmony. The duo that is Magic Apron, Joanna Bajandas and David McClung, sound like they’re alone in candlelight, among the shadows, playing their guitars and singing to each other. There’s something of Low or Damon and Naomi about them, yet they’re more direct, more pop. They sound like they’re trying to cast a glow out of the speakers, and at that they absolutely succeed, but they also sound like they have something to say, something to get off their hearts.

I use “heart” not as a cliché, but because the album seems like a personal statement of love and hope – “dedicated to our friends and family”, according to the album notes, and by relation to humanity. Hope is tricky. It’d be easy to come off as corny with sentiment like “Ours”’ line “If all the little pretty things would wake up / and put on their wings / it would all be okay.” But nothing about that line, or this album, strikes me as the least bit corny given their approach to it. Nothing rings a false note. To these songs there’s tenderness, humility, and – perhaps most important – gorgeous melodies, singing and guitar-playing. The music is minimalist, letting each note transport. It’s spacey in pleasant ways (with the guitars occasionally carrying us off into the waves), yet also at times driving and urgent, like on “Tender Ghosts”, where they sound not like they’re singing to the darkness but like they want everyone in the world to hear them. “It’s gone to bed this town you said,” yet it sounds like they’re trying with all their might to wake it up. But wake everyone up gently, to something beautiful.


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