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Magic 12 - Magic 12

  by John Clarkson

published: 17 / 12 / 2001

Magic 12 - Magic 12
Label: Dahlia
Format: CD


Magic 12's music comes from the heart and soul. The band's lovingly crafted eponymous debut CD merges poetic lyrics and hauntingly soft melodies together in a sound that simmers and aches with gentle,

Magic 12's music comes from the heart and soul. The band's lovingly crafted eponymous debut CD merges poetic lyrics and hauntingly soft melodies together in a sound that simmers and aches with gentle, but melancholic calm. Understated in style and tone, its songs have a delicate power and it is an album of broodingly passionate and evocative quality. The group was formed in Boston early in 1998 and features in its line up drummer and percussionist Nancy Asch, guitarist Dana Hollowell, pianist Beth Heinberg and vocalist and songwriter Toby Ingalls, all of whom are veterans of the local independent music scene. 'Magic 12' was recorded later on that year at Pete Weiss's busy Zippah Studios, and was co-produced by Weiss and Robert Fisher, the lead singer of 'The Willard Grant Conspiracy', who also appears on guest vocals on the album. Heinberg's piano is the principal instrument. Its swirling and lightly fluctuating chords combine with tender, textural acoustic guitar playing from Hollowell and fragilely insistent drumwork and percussion from Asch, and create a starkly beautiful and subtle sound. Ingalls vocals' are unhurried and unrushed, clear and dreamily slow, and he has the ability in his lyrics to sum up a complete situation or the whole meaning of a song often in a phrase or a line. "Talking to you is just like trying to capture a bird/Sometimes you fly so high I can't hear the words" he sings as an opening gambit on the first song 'Macaw' about a girlfriend who remains out of reach and a relationship that just won't get off the ground. 'Pink Slip', which ends in a extended and flowing instrumental with both Heinberg's piano and Hollowell's guitar duelling for dominance, meanwhile is about the collapse of a long friendship between two people who have known everything about each other "You were always so good at pretending/Can you take just one minute of your day to look at me and not see through me ?". Many of the other songs on 'Magic 12' are similarly downbeat. 'Drive Away' is about the end of a love affair, and both 'Sand' and 'Glow' deal with loss of dreams and hope, but there are also some gloriously up-tempo moments too. 'Lone Star', which features breezy piano from Heinberg, is a gorgeous and sumptious love song ("I see only you through the dark/Guide me home to your arms/Where I am safe from harm/My Lone Star") while the final number, the elegiac and dreamy 'Wonderin', another romance, again also offers something perhaps more hopeful ("Wonderin' where you wander/when the sun goes under/And the stars come up/And the moon shines brightly"). This is a hidden gem of an album, one which is little known outside its local area, but one of genuine originality and with strong songs that remain poignantly fixed and firmly rooted in the mind and memory long after they have been played. With a second album of songs 'Dear Diary' on the way and promised for later this year, Magic 12 are a band to watch out for and a name to pay close attention to in the future.

Track Listing:-
1 Macaw
2 Drive Away
3 Pink Slip
4 Sand
5 Lone Star
6 Glow
7 Lost
8 Wonderin

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