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Her Name In Lights: Into The Light Again

Reviewed By: Malcolm Carter
Label: Laughing Outlaw
Format: CD

Eclectic as Laughing Outlaw are these days I never thought I’d see the day when an artist who used to be on the predominantly twee indie label Sarah Records would release an album on our favourite Australian record label. But maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised because Her Name In Lights lead singer, composer and vocalist Mary Wyer, who used to sing for Even As We Speak, has, on the evidence of these 16 songs, given label mate Jenny Queen something to worry about.

There’s been a good few years since the days of Even As We Speak and the release of this album, so an easy way out would to be to say that Wyer has matured as a singer and songwriter, which I’m sure she has, but one can’t help but feel that it is more than the passing of years that has produced these songs. There’s not a dud song on here, and as a comparison, the album is every bit as good as Laughing Outlaw's previous best ever album, Jenny Queen’s debut, 'Girls Who Cry Need Cake' of which this collection, surprisingly given Wyer’s background, recalls.

Her Name In Lights is actually a "real" band although much is going to be made of Wyer. She wrote the majority of the material. The album hinges around the fact that a former boyfriend left his car outside her house for six weeks leaving a constant reminder that Wyer as well as the car had been well and truly dumped (some revenge was probably gained by Wyer spraying ‘You Know I Really Loved That Boy’ across the side of the car) and her girly vocals are obviously a major part of the band’s sound. But with producer Simon Holmes (a former Hummingbird, remember ‘Love Buzz’, their Mitch Easter produced classic from 1989?) adding bass, guitar and pump organ, Almond Cafarella on guitar and piano, and Alison Galloway handling the drums for the album (she has since left the band, Simon Gibson taking her place for the live shows) what could have been essentially a Wyer solo album has taken on new textures and life.

The major attraction is Wyer’s vocals, cute, youthful, but without any annoying feyness, and any band that can take the Tom Jones/ Mousse T ‘song’ ‘Sex Bomb’ and turn it into something listenable must be doing something right. There’s a certain innocence to Wyer’s vocals running throughout these songs which is appealing. Guitarist Cafarella offers the real opening song (after the short ‘Prelude), ‘Here She Comes’, which is ideally suited to Wyer’s sweet vocals. Rebuilding a life after a love lost seems to be the message and like most of the songs on the album love is the central subject be it lost or found.

It’s hard to pick out just a couple of songs for attention. They are all excellent, but mention must be made of ‘You Know I Really Loved That Boy’ where the listener really feels for Wyer on her loss; who can resist Wyer singing “Good bye, good luck you don’t deserve my love” especially when it’s coupled with a melody that matches the heartbreak in the lyrics ? ‘Car’ is also worthy of a special mention, telling the story of that car that was abandoned for 6 weeks before being towed away, “I touch her metal, I know we’re traded in for good”, sings Wyer in her best little girl lost voice which is more touching than it seems on paper.

As a debut album, ‘Into The Light Again’ really shines. What the band do will not appeal to everyone. Those who liked the overall cutesy sound of Sarah records will find much to enjoy here as will those who like female singers who still sound vulnerable, and who can vent their anger or disappointment in a ‘little girl lost’ way. It’s an album that does stand up to repeated playing, and never disappoints. I look forward to hearing more from Her Name In Lights.

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