White Flags Of Winter Chimneys

Wendy & Lisa

Independent release, 2009


REVIEW BY: Mark Millan


Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman (aka Girl Bros.) are best remembered for their work with Prince as part of his onetime band The Revolution.  Together they released and toured behind three albums over three years before the Purple One ditched them and they began putting together what would become his new outfit, The NPG. Since that time, Wendy and Lisa have worked together on a number of projects, most notably composing the music for the TV show Heroes

Most recently, they have released their fifth album together after a ten year hiatus from recording.  I’m pleased to say that the wait has been worth it, and although White Flags Of Winter Chimneys is not instantly accessible, it rewarded this listener for his patience after a “getting to know you” period of about three weeks.  Doing away with any label involvement, the girls bravely decided to self-release this album, and while that means it won’t get the exposure it deserves, it is certainly worth searching out if you’re curious as to what they sound like these days.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

While still a little punch drunk from the ‘80s, the girls sound energized and self-assured in their approach to the often mystical tales they have woven here.  Kicking things off with “Balloon” is a brave choice because it’s one of the albums most experimental moments.  Wendy takes the lead, gently glides through the airy atmosphere created by some beautiful opening chords of dueling piano and guitar. 

Next up is a poppy affair, with Lisa oozing plenty of spunk in delivering the defiant lyrics of “Invisible.”  It’s hard not to relate this one to His Purpleness: “Those years were mine, I made us greater than our time / Why don’t you see, the light you had because of me / When you were mine.”  Maybe I’m reading too much into it, though.

“Ever After” is a beautiful sonic soundscape that offers plenty of room for the wonderfully morbid lyrics to really sink in.  “Salt & Cherries (MC5)” is a guitar driven rocker that gets better with every listen.  It sounds to me like a throwback to the glitter rock of the ‘70s, and that’s always a good thing.  The wishy- washy space- out jam of “Niagra Falls” is the album’s only real turkey.  “Red Bike” is loose and groovy in all the right places, and although I have no idea what it’s about, it’s good fun and is another track that I’m enjoying more and more.         

“You And I” is a straightforward love song that retains the album’s mystical atmosphere with a simple guitar and bass arrangement.  The title track is essentially based around the lyric, “White flags of winter chimneys” from Joni Mitchell’s Hejira.  There’s some wonderfully eerie harmonies here, and the overall theme of “less is more” has really paid off by now.  The album closes with “Sweet Suite (Beginning At The End),” which is a dreamy piano ballad that morphs into a slow-burning guitar jam that seals the deal beautifully. 

This album is not for everyone, but if you like a challenge and you are a daydreamer like yours truly, then this is the perfect soundtrack for those moments of random mind travel. 

Rating: B+

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© 2009 Mark Millan and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Independent release, and is used for informational purposes only.