Lady Lazarus

Apartment Life, 2011

REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer


Lady Lazarus (aka Melissa Ann Sweat) has developed a rather peculiar sound for her music. The slightly tinny and hollow sound that her songs possess has an antediluvian appearance. The audio in her music is hazy and has the air of nostalgia, like a recording from the bygone years of the work of a vagabond folk singer captured with the aid of some rickety old audio equipment.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

But Ms. Lazarus’ music does have that intimate quality of a humble folk singer of yore. Her voice doesn’t bear the weight of irony or tongue-in-cheek of today’s generation; instead, there is a naïve and dated quality to it. Most of the songs on Mantic are based on a simple piano and vocals combo, a medium that is as retro as the album claims to be.

The weirdness in the way Lady Lazarus’ music sounds makes for a pleasant contrast with her melodious tunes and dulcet singing. Her compositions are tight, with most songs built around a modest riff played repeatedly on the piano. Sweat’s voice might be sweet, but her singing is a wee bit peculiar. Sometimes, she seems not too eager to follow the pace of the piano but to set her own speed, just for her vocals. And strangely enough, this quirk of hers turns out to be a charmer. The combination of enthusiasm and uncontrived directness in Sweat’s vocals is hard not to fall for.

Behind Lady Lazarus’ innocent demeanor is an artist who is not shy to dabble in some mischievous manipulation, if it produces the right effects in her music: the album’s creaky antiquated sound; Sweat’s carefree vocals which guilelessly choose to meander in its own path, sometimes oblivious of what direction the music is taking; and not to mention the pianos themselves, which slow down or go fast almost amateurishly in the midst of a song, as if Sweat has no control over their pace. All this makes her seem like somewhat of a klutzy dilettante, trying to cut an album in her basement. But Mantic is angelic, haunting, and immaculate, which is quite the contrary. A klutz indeed, the lady is, albeit a cheeky and gifted one.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2011 Vish Iyer 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 Apartment Life, and is used for informational purposes only.