Songs, if fashioned properly at least, have the ability speak through their music whilst having a second conversation via their lyrics. The art of it of course is to make sure that both musical dialogues are in tune (pun intended) with each other. Magdalene is the perfect example of just how you do this. If the music conjures the breezy, recently electrified vibe of late 60’s Laurel Canyon, the one place where the Summer of Love had actually coalesced into a community of free-thinking creatives, in turn a spring board to all manner of iconic bands, the lyrics describe exactly the sort of bohemian princess who could be found dancing through it.
The song wanders from lilting incense-infused verses to chipper and charming chorus, is bedecked in deft, interplaying layers of guitars, piano chords as punctuation points and a busy beat which keeps the energy levels up whilst cleverly keeping just far enough out of the spotlight so as not to distract from this harmonious, melodic maelstrom.
And although it references the cosmic-folk sound of those times, it is perhaps a later reference which keeps chiming in my head. Not only is there something of 10,000 Manics approach to the music, similar blends of understated indie, folk and rock woven into delicate and accessible pop-aware morsels, vocally there is a lot of Natalie Merchant’s tone too. In my book, that is about as high praise as you can get.
It’s a gorgeous song, mixing musical elegance with lyrical eloquence, it paints pictures as it plays out, draws on images of the past but does so from a very modern footing. Imagine finding a box of faded, age-mottled, sun-faded Polaroids, a window on a long-forgotten past, a reminder of simpler times. Now imagine that turned into a song. Well, that!