Every album ever released, every song, are links in an endless chain. Influences, inspirations— they are always present, sometimes in ways that are delightfully obvious (Amy Winehouse), and sometimes in ways that are less evident (Grimes). Before releasing their album Generals in 2012, The Mynabirds offered up a very different record: 2010’s What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood, which wears its influences on its vintage sleeves.
Although recorded in Omaha, Nebraska, the album sounds as though it was made in the south; specifically, it could have been recorded in a cavernous Baptist church basement in Memphis (and that’s a very good thing). Equal parts Cat Power and Dusty in Memphis, there’s a timeless quality to the songs, and Laura Burhenn’s voice has a hazy sweetness that conjures images of honeysuckle blossoms in the summertime.
Covering a handful of genres, from the gentle country of “Good Heart” to the Velvet Underground strum of “Ways of Looking”, the album is not easily categorized. The driving force of “Let the Record Go” is balanced by the contemplative title track and “Give It Time”, while “L.A. Rain” has a soulful strut:
Some of the songs are so classic that they seem to have existed for years, although each song was written by Laura Burhenn. “Right Place” is a tear-inducing ballad that wouldn’t sound out of place on an early Emmylou Harris album, with lovely lyrics and an affecting performance. “Numbers Don’t Lie” draws from the girl group well, with its lighthearted backing vocals and whimsical music video:
After the release of What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood, The Mynabirds changed direction. Their second album would radically reinterpret their sound, with prominent percussion and political lyrics, and they would increase their fan base exponentially. But recordings are forever, and fans of the first album can return to the tiny world of that imaginary church basement time and again, wondering who the next link in the chain will be.