A Welcome Addition to Folk Festivals Everywhere
Hippies rejoice! Just when you were getting sick of tripping yourselves silly to the sounds of aging obscurities from the ’60s– and sick of perpetuating that stereotype– Mean Lady is here to validate your tastes and put the “hip” back in “hippie.” The Delaware duo (and sometimes trio) has stepped into the world of alterna-retro music with their debut, Love Now, but they’ve got something a little more authentic and intriguing than their peers.
That “something” can be found in Mean Lady’s unique use of sampling and non-traditional instruments. Rather than merely mimicking the sounds of old girl-pop, they seek to rearrange them for the modern era. The melodies, as delivered by the smokey-voiced Katie Dill, are sing-songy and catchy and she is supported by sleigh bells, ukulele and chirping keyboards. While one might be tempted to write them off as a She & Him knock-off, there is clearly care and attention paid to the songwriting, enough to command respect.
Equal care was given to the arrangements and the intentions of the songs. Opening number “One Big Family” introduces a playful, accessible, feel-good side of Mean Lady, and includes a sing-a-long chorus. “Far and Away” shows the band at its most psychedelic, with spinning keyboards and reverse guitar loops, but the drum samples ground it and deliver it safely into iPod commercial candidacy. “Mother Earth” features a hollow guitar sound that warms the listener, and that same guitar (provided by Sam Nobles) gets just a wee bit fuzzy on the stripped-down “Bop Bop.” The band’s name appears in the infectious faux-reggae “Why’d’ya Haftabee Sucha,” and the the nine-minute “Pony Ony O” is a lullaby wrapped in a dream sequence. Love Now ends with the lovely and hopeful “I Will Marry You.”
There is enough range on this debut LP to display Mean Lady’s talents, but the songs sound like they are coming from a band with a vision, and that vision appears to be the production of music that is as fun to listen to as it was to create. If Mean Lady took themselves too seriously, the project would not be as successful as it is. This music was made for the outdoors, warm nights with cool breezes, and can and should be enjoyed by all.