Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Each and every Friday, we offer songs by local artists. Today’s selection, featured on the Midday Show with Cheryl Waters, is “Numbers Don’t Lie” by The Mynabirds from the 2010 album What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood on Saddle Creek Records.
While they never released an album, The Mynha Birds was the obscure first project of an eclectic group of artists –- most notably Neil Young, Rick James and Bruce Palmer –- that would go on to create genre-defining music in their later careers. It is this combination of gospel spirit and folk-rock energy that flows through Laura Burhenn’s (one half of former D.C. outfit Georgia James) modern day (and coincidentally named) outfit The Mynabirds. Much like the hazy polaroids that inhabit her band’s Myspace page, Burhenn’s subtle voice softens the corners at the intersection of R&B, Gospel and Rock, giving each genre an opportunity to shine without sounding even a little bit busy.
The Mynabirds’ first LP, What We Lose In The Fire, We Gain In The Flood, was recorded in the Oregon hills with singer/songwriter/Producer Richard Swift. Swift’s careful ear and attention to detail flies above the turbulent waters of genre schlock, skillfully landing this all-important debut on genuinely dry land. Also on my list for heaps of praise are the many contributors that helped Ms. Burhenn out with every different kind instrument you could ever imagine. As with so many Saddle Creek releases, the overall success of What We Lost In The Fire is in part a product of the label’s far-reaching community of musicians. Orenda Fink (Azure Ray, O+S) and musician/engineer/producer AJ Mogis (Criteria, Monsters of Folk, Tilly and the Wall) added vocals; Tom Hnatow (These United States) played pedal steel; and the brilliant Nate Walcott (Bright Eyes) arranged the horns that backbone the entirety of the album.
On the playfully introspective single, “The Numbers Don’t Lie,” Berhenn explores the simplicity of facts and the benefits of positivity. The song is a poppy lesson in cognitive therapy that asks us to see the painful moments of life in a new light and avoid the spirals of reactionary negativity. Berhenn sings with the gentleness of a savvy negotiator:
Baby, if you wanna be right
I will let you be right
Then urges us to be happy and confident, despite the past:
You know that the numbers don’t lie
Two wrongs will not make a right
I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling better already.
You’d probably feel a lot better too if The Mynabirds were coming to a town near you soon. Currently, Burhenn and the band are touring the East Coast, but their website promises West Coast dates, including Seattle, in July. For now, here’s the new video for today’s Song of the Day: