Light of X
Miranda Lee Richards was brought up in San Francisco by underground comic artist parents who introduced her to R. Crumb. While a teen, Metallica's Kirk Hammett taught her some guitar and in her early 20s she sang with neo-psychedelic kooks the Brian Jonestown Massacre. So one might expect that Richards plays perverted speed metal tinged with an acid-rock edge, but in truth she sounds more like the love child of Emmylou Harris and Gram Parsons. Light of X radiates with the bygone spirits of Los Angeles' canyon-filtered folk-rock and '60s chamber pop. The liquid pedal steel notes, Hammond organ, electric 12-string jangle, Glockenspiel, mandolin, and Mellotron all blend together with beautiful alchemy as played by members of Mazzy Star, Beachwood Sparks, Wallflowers, and Mars Volta. Richards' feathery voice floats above heartbreaking piano notes on the opening "Breathless," though "Early November" best exemplifies how her sailing harmonies and crystalline inflections define her talent. It's her magic, lilting voice that truly brings these songs to life. Just listen to "Mirror At the End" and try not to fall in love.