Laura Burhenn, the singer and songwriter of The Mynabirds, was previously one half of the Washington, D.C. indie-pop duo Georgie James before she moved to Omaha, Neb. Her new project finds her taking a stylistic turn toward vintage country and soul with a gorgeous set of songs that could pass for old standards. After hearing the heartbreaking, beautifully composed debut album, What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood, you can't help but feel that she was born to sing this soulful gospel music.
The songs translated powerfully in her bold and assured live set at KEXP. There is a bit of a retro vibe in the music that reminds me of Dusty Springfield, though Burhenn herself claims she was going for Neil Young meets Motown. You can certainly hear that influence in the upbeat tunes like "Numbers Don't Lie," with its crunchy guitar breaking through the slow vintage organ intro, and "Let the Record Go," with its bouncy honky-tonk piano. Burhenn's voice is hypnotizing on the slower tracks, like "Give It Time," which really showcases her lower range, and the sorrowful "Right Place," with its reflective refrain "Every little thing when it falls / It falls in its right place."
It seems like things have fallen in the right place for Burhenn and her new band. Both joyful and winsome, The Mynabirds' songs cast an ethereal glow in the studio. This is a young artist who has clearly found her voice.