MIRANDA LEE RICHARDS – Existential Beast (Invisible Hands IHCD74)

Existential BeastA 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.

Mike Davies

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Artist’s website: www.mirandaleerichards.com

‘Colours So Fine’ – official video: