The advantage (and sometimes curse) of being a recording artist in 2015 is that you can post something on the internet, be it via SoundCloud, YouTube, Bandcamp, or any other upload-friendly platform, and have it heard by seemingly anyone, faceless strangers clicking that “play” button. For Nashville musician Lindsay Murray, her decision to post a Posies cover — a self-admitted “uncharacteristically bold” move — resulted in a life-changing twist when Ken Stringfellow, one of the group’s founding members, heard it. The Paris-based Stringfellow decided to produce Murray’s debut record, released under her musical alias Gretchen’s Wheel, and the rest, as they say, is musical history.
With nods to bands like Nada Surf and artists like Matthew Sweet — whose 1995 album 100% Fun was Murray’s motivating factor in picking up a guitar — Fragile State is an amalgam of everything that makes us essentially human. Not in an existential, hard-to-reach kinda way, but more in the vein of simply being alive and hoping for a better future. The ’90s influence is definitely present across the record; opener “Second to Last” shows shades of Aimee Mann and Shawn Colvin (its lyrics even mention flannel shirts), while “Pretend” and “One More Mile” fall into grunge/ballad territory — not a bad place to be.[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/194010450″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]
Not to imply that the entire record is total throwback, although the mysterious “Masquerade Waltz” falls against an intriguing 3/4 tempo (no surprise there given the title) and creates a timeless, enchanting sound that’s wholly modern. Other standouts are the fuzzy, psychedelic-tinged “Why Try”; “Overcome,” which recalls the vibe of “Waltz” in its classical influence and heavy string presence; and the questioning closer “Total Loss,” in which Murray ponders what’s to come. Well, Lindsay, if your first record is any indication, only good things.