David D. Robbins Jr. | Their Bated Breath
9Mary “Fear No More” EP
So far we’ve mostly come to know 9Mary’s Flo Morrissey for the range of stunning covers she’s posted online, from her subtle versions of Tuxedomoon’s “In a Manner of Speaking” and Morrissey’s “Irish Blood, English Heart”, to her invigorating re-working of Sean Lennon’s “Dead Meat”. Now she has a debut six-song EP, “Fear No More”, a record that takes all her previous folk beauty and expands it into soft and lush rhythms, stirring musical honesty, and deliciously understated melodies. “Fear No More” is the blossoming of an artist, whose elegance seems bred in the bone. You can hear it in her high-pitched annunciations, the blood-red sincerity of her lyricism, and the earnestness of her approach. This is an album that respects music to the core, doing what all good music does: dig deep into the self and give substance to feeling.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about this short but sweet record is just how soulful it is in the old-world sense. The first track, “Show Me”, is earth rich and darkly romantic. It feels like a feminine version of a song Nick Drake might have written, glistening with a nostalgic reverence, diving into elemental themes like nature, time, love and innocence: “Show me the river where we swam / Show me the miles that we ran — from ourselves …” There’s a subtlety to the musical movement of “Show Me”, which begins with quiet but quickly paced acoustic-guitar chords, like a traditional folk song. But the introduction of percussion and ambient electric guitar, working like rivulets, transforms the song into a slightly different rhythm. Soon the track quiets again, finally ending with Flo’s voice unraveling like ribbon into the beautifully insouciant verse, “Don’t show me / I don’t want to know / I need, I need to learn to let go.”
Her song, “Blow Out”, is a dark and somber ghost’s whisper — both tranquil and tragic. But one of 9Mary’s gifts is her ability to turn airy distance into something intimate. The guitar work is exquisite throughout. “Possession” is beguilingly pretty in its careful mix of discordant guitar and lilting vocals. “Addiction” seems like a relationship song, charming with graceful acoustic and electric guitar. Besides “Show Me”, perhaps “Captivate” is the gem of the record, especially the lithely sensual sound of the chorus, “Why can’t you, captivate me like it’s true / You know I do it for you … “ It’s mesmerizing, and will leave a lump in the throat. 9Marys “Fear No More” is an impassioned fire of a debut. It’s full of dreams, fears, heartbreak, and the fragile feel of something so honest and delicate as to be soluble to the touch. Follow 9Mary on facebook, tumblr and at twitter. Note: All lyrics are unofficial. Read archived Their Bated Breath posts about 9Mary here.