Miranda Lee Richards – Light of X (Nettwerk, 2009)
purchase this album (Amazon)

She took guitar lessons from Kirk Hammett and R. Crumb was her godfather, but don’t expect shredding or off-color humor from Miranda Lee Richards; her second full-length effort, Light of X, is as heavy on the gauzy L.A. vibe as you’d expect for an artist who has worked with the Brian Jonestown Massacre and the Jon Brion/David Campbell studio mafia. It’s pretty, vaguely country-tinged stuff — sort of like Mazzy Star and Concrete Blonde thrown in a blender with the Innocence Mission and early Linda Ronstadt.

It is also, as you may have already guessed, very heavy on vibe, and somewhat light on actual songwriting. Light on X plods along at a middling gait, feet shuffilng, eyes glued to the floor; it’s the aural reflection of its cover photo, which depicts Richards backlit by a pastoral sunset, standing next to a horse. Hooks aren’t Richards’ primary concern — she seems to think it doesn’t matter if you remember the song as long as you remember how you felt while you were listening to it.

And here’s the funny thing: she’s mostly right. Light of X wafts in slowly, envelops you in a thoroughly pleasant haze, and wafts back out again, and even if it leaves you with the impression of one long, autumnal ballad, it’s all put together so beautifully that it’s hard to argue. I doubt I’d be able to stay awake for all of a Miranda Lee Richards concert, but something tells me I’ll be playing Light of X on many a Sunday morning. The album won’t reach stores until next February, but you can pre-order it now at the link above; in the meantime, give “Early November” (download) an advance listen, and watch the video for “Long Goodbye”: