NPR logo A Song from a Lost City, Blunt and Suggestive

A Song from a Lost City, Blunt and Suggestive

'Mona Lisa' by Blair

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Friday's Pick

  • Song: "Mona Lisa"
  • Artist: Blair
  • CD: Pluto EP
  • Genre: Folk-Rock

In high school, Blair Gimma came of age playing gigs in clubs and coffeehouses in New Orleans. hide caption

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Considering that New Orleans is effectively a college town nine months out of the year, it's somewhat surprising that the wealth of musical options has kept indie rock from fully taking root there. The smattering of bands and clubs who cater to more contemporary alt-rock tastes do enjoy a certain solidarity, butthey've yet to extend their full support to the girl-with-guitar genre — which is why it's such a pleasant surprise to come across a homegrown girl like Blair Gimma, who cut her teeth playing gigs in clubs and coffeehouses around town while still in high school, and who now comes into her own on the promising EP Pluto.

Blair (she performs under her first name only) cites Neil Young as a primary influence, but she owes as much to early Liz Phair, with whom she shares a meandering singing style and a lyrical bluntness that sounds at once suggestive and wounded. But whereas Phair's bravado evokes exasperation, Blair's suggests a more wide-eyed sense of adventure, even as she takes on the subject of how ambivalence can masquerade as indifference on the deceptively upbeat "Mona Lisa": "I was a Mona Lisa, and you made me abstract art / I was juggling with my twenty arms / Some say those are my eyes / and some say they are my tears / and I say nothing at all."

According to Gimma, she came up with the EP's title after scientists decided that Pluto was no longer a planet — an apt metaphor for her hometown post-Katrina. "Something is one way all your life," she writes, "Then all of a sudden, it totally changes." As her songs suggest, sometimes that's neither a good nor a bad thing.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'