I have, however, had tea and some lovely Bangladeshi cuisine with Ms. Garrison, whose name betrays her aggressive, almost militant approach to the musical arts, but not her incandescent, charmed beauty or her wise but child-like grace. She infuses these dichotomous elements of her personality into the sultry siren song of a debut album, You Are Loved. To lush and lovely results.
“Come, let’s take this boat out to sea; I won’t let the tides of my heart drown me,” she invites in the opening line of the album’s first track, Treasure. Rife with maritime references and metaphors, this auditory introduction lulls the listener into Garrison’s aggressive, but lilting world of brazen love, loss and longing. Treasure opens the book of You Are Loved and serves as its seafaring table of contents. It’s keen. It’s sexy. It’s simple and it's sanguine.
Garrison's You Are Loved explores postmodern human issues in a haunted and subtle context, always coupled with her unique brand of sweetly pained vocal attack. She says that her songs are inspired by “the cities of Paris, San Francisco, New York and Galway, the writing of Anais Nin and the artwork of Gustave Moreau.” For those unfamiliar with Moreau, his work is both polished and dirty, lushly layered and intricately detailed, rife with mythological symbology and sexual energy. Yet, his figures and characters sport lifeless, ambiguous, runway modelesque blank stares, which drop buckets of disquiet and uncertainty into his pieces. Much the same could be said of the songs on this album: Lavish, beautiful, detailed, layered, and speaking to a kind of passionate emptiness that’s textually evasive.
“Beware of water; she’ll pull you in, and just like your lover, you’ll be fooled again” Garrison sings, as though she and water had a bittersweet night of angry, stinging words and hot, boiling sex, followed by a bloody and bruised, bittwersweet sunrise with perfect apple butter on stale toast. Songs like this third track hit the ears like muddled memories, at once familiar and alien, they sound like they could be lost songs from some classical rock past that never was. In Anything Alive, Garrison plays with soulful riffs that make like waves breaking on the senses, and explores the shores of self-medication and injury: “one hand on the bottle; one eye on my need.”
This push and pull between longing and loss, love and (at least emotional or metaphorical) death is central to You Are Loved, right down to its likely mocking title. It’s a valentine to hearts that are lost at sea, and its imagery and guitar-driven melodies are a testament to that allegory. The album ends with a repining discourse titled I Am The Cosmos, which howls to the conflict between self-pity and self- aggrandizement. It’s an anthem for people like me, who wear our hearts on our sleeves, let our ideas and emotions have free range, and take the consequences like pros. “Every night, I tell myself I am the cosmos, I am the wind” Garrison sings, and I’m there. I’m so there. Every night, I’m a spiral galaxy, colliding with other galaxies, and watching our arms spin, spin, out of control and fly in the face of gravity.
You can buy a hard copy of Kim Garrison’s You Are Loved from the artist’s site (where you can also listen to free samples, cheap-asses!), or if you prefer digital downloads, you can zip over to Amazon , Amazon UK, or search for her name on iTunes.
Enjoy, kiddies. I’m sure loving the stuffing outta this shit.