There wasn’t a dry eye at the rally when Myshkin Warbler took to the stage with an acoustic guitar and performed a rousing rendition of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land.”
—Louis Sahagun, Los Angeles Times 1/26/19
Link to live footage of this moment. Published in the Desert Sun January 26, 2019, the clip went national via USA Today January 30.
Dreamy beauty that conjures up rainy nights in a Budapest or Berlin cafe.
Darkly joyous, endlessly restless, and spellbinding. Gypsy, cabaret and punk influences, and a masterfully mercurial, seductive voice.
This ruby warbler's song commands your attention, frees your gypsy heart and soul, and lets you see the world from her own unique perspective. Myshkin is not to be missed.
—World on 3, BBC Radio
Sad, smart and weird...with a restless, caterwauling freedom.
Both lyrical and politically pointed. A rich blend topped with her broad-ranging, keening voice.
The story grabs and doesn't let go. Every song is brilliant.
Myshkin’s voice is not to be taken lightly. A gorgeous rich alto infused with natural drama and melancholy, and best applied to her own songs: hushed one act plays that speak volumes
—New Orleans Times Picayune
A poet who actually has something to say... dense, dark songs rendered beautifully.
Dusky, haunting gems... for all its risk-taking, never fails to sound totally organic... excellent.
—All Music Guide
Haunting melodies, intricate metaphors and subversive subplots … tales of pirate girls on high seas! Lover’s feuds under apricot trees! Rosebud bullets, ruby warblers and whalebone skirts! An unmistakable, complex underground legend.
—Bitch Magazine, USA
A giant among songwriters
—City Life, Manchester, UK
Nashville Music News
by Janet Goodman — March 11, 2013
Myshkin's Ruby Warblers — That Diamond Lust
With a name right out of a 19th Century Dostoyevsky novel, Oregon-based artist Myshkin lives up to her exotic borrowed moniker in her latest release on DoubleSalt Records, “That Diamond Lust.” This seventh recording by her and the ever-evolving configuration of players that makes up Myshkin’s Ruby Warblers features ten tracks written by the artist and co-produced with Sugar Short Wave. Her warm sultry tones and loose phrasing of poetic lyrics are influenced by nearly a decade of living in New Orleans, but she peppers her jazz style with experimental, alternative and folk music to make one heck of a 21st Century beatnik bohemian gumbo.
Ambitious listeners longing for something unconventional will revel in the intriguing string arrangement in “Welding & Sawing,” and the spooky, unsettling vibe of “Hoopa.” But Myshkin never pushes the envelope over the edge, allowing just the right balance of offbeat and indie contemporary. Her pieces have a hypnotic and dark cinematic sensitivity, and her words can be biting, as in “Saturnalia”: “Elastic arms/A corkscrew neck/You’re animated/You’re up on deck/The gulls are feeding/ In your wake/You cut the surface like a cake/Your deeper waters/Your sonar spark/You know the ways out of the dark.”
Lush harmonies and suffering vocals on “Pity,” and approachable mandolin coupled with a cold synth on “Whalebone Skirt” are keen to express an interest in blending yin with yang. Just when you think she’s teetering on self-indulgence, Myshkin pulls a 180 with a stripped-down acoustic “Corvidae” – her lone live recording. Many of the songs here were recorded in her self-built, earth-walled sound facility in Oregon, Nest Studios, adding to the album’s allure, making for a thrilling listening experience.
Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker — January 31, 2013
That Diamond Lust is definitely a bird of a different feather, and I'm not sure where to tell you to pigeonhole it, though I love the 'folk-tronic' classification the promo lit carries. I think the safest RIYL to put before the readers is Bjork, 'cause the restless Myshkin is a woman who would be as at home in a beat cafe as at a UCLA experimental-music fest as in a Lollawhatthehecka gypsy caravan as gliding through a lysergic nightclub. This is her seventh record, five years in the making, and I've no doubt she wrestled with angels and demons in coming up with it, not to mention hosting sundry dinner parties for epileptic sidereal muses by the boatload. Myshkin's Ruby Warblers themselves appear to actually be an aggregate of sessioneers pulled in to cover what Myshkin can't (and that ain't much, as she tackles not just the singing but the guitars, bass, mandolin, beats, and snyths as well), playing with the finesse of a chamber orchestra backing an earthy prodigy with inexplicable wellsprings.
'Hallucinatory' is an excellent sobriquet to lay on this highly arresting cycle operating as Joycean landscape. The literacy is stratospheric, eros racing through the shifting platform, and more than once I was reminded of what Tim Hardin, David Ackles, Tom Rapp (Pearls Before Swine), and others from the 60s and 70s were reaching for. It's difficult even to conceive of how one must arrange one's thinking processes just to come up with such a variegated and mellifluously phantasmagoric end result. Chaos is everywhere, but it's been leashed to an ornate stream of consciousness that swirls, twists, transmogrifies, and then halts to look at itself in a mirror, liking what it sees.
So distinctive is Diamond Lust as a pop-prog, cabaret, Romantic whatthehell that its sound earned Myshkin a turn in the famed BBC Live roster as she toured Europe. That landed her a contract with Double Salt Records, and thus we in the States now benefit. Sigh!, the damn Brits are always a step ahead of us, aren't they? Did I tell ya Myshkin hand-built an earth-walled permaculture 'art farm' in the Pacific NorthWest? She did, and it figures, being a Portlander (cool metropolis, that Portland!), being a TRUE artist (wait 'til you see the cover…by Mysh herself), and it's that core innovative wont that drives this release. When I was interviewing organomorph architect James Hubbell, I ran across the same polyglot set of aesthetics I'm finding in this outré belle diva and was just as gobwalloped, wondering just how such people make it through the day in the mundane world, like rare-plumed birds in a desert.
This is a CD that throws you into the deep end of the soma pool, but with grace athwart the ceaselessly warping and sliding perspectives, so, if you happen to be trepidatious of surrealism, start with Pity and Corvidae 'cause the rest of the roster will turn your head around backwards and, if you're lucky and paying attention, you might just find that that's the proper way to look at the world. You could even unearth some of that sense of wonder you lost as a child.
The New Orleans Times-Picayune
By Keith Spera — Thursday, March 29, 2012
Myshkin returns to New Orleans with another bewitching heartbreak album
Myshkin’s achingly beautiful and bittersweet “Rosebud Bullets,” a bewitching pastiche of torch songs, Celtic influences, gypsy music and other exotica, was among the best local albums of 2002. It was also Myshkin’s New Orleans swan song. Shortly after its release, she moved to Portland, Ore. “Rosebud Bullets” was inspired by the dissolution of her marriage to singer-songwriter Mike West. A decade later, the end of another relationship fueled Myshkin’s new “That Diamond Lust.” The result is equally intoxicating, a meticulously crafted soundscape that showcases the singer’s sumptuous alto to dramatic effect. After “Rosebud Bullets,” she based her next two releases on “external” topics. “Then something happens, I crash and burn, and I go internal again,” she said recently. “You’ve got to use what you’ve got.” Over the next month, she will be in and out of New Orleans as she tours the Southeast. On Saturday, she headlines the Hi-Ho Lounge, playing songs from “That Diamond Lust” and her back catalog. She’s preceded by guitarist and songwriter Alex McMurray and cellist Helen Gillet, both of whom will likely sit in with her.
An itinerant existence landed Myshkin in New Orleans in 1993. Here, she developed diverse musical personalities. With the band Myshkin: Impossible, she trafficked in squalling alternative rock. In partnership with West, she explored folk and country music with a sly sense of humor. In Portland, she found that musicians abound, but not a sense of community. “There’s not the same camaraderie,” she said. “It’s a bit clique-ish. New Orleans never felt clique-ish to me.” Via her own DoubleSalt Records, she recorded and released “Corvidae” in 2002 and the politically charged, seven-song EP “Sigh Semaphore” in 2004. During frequent tours around the country, she recorded instrumental tracks with friends for use on whatever her next project would be. That project took far longer than expected.
In 2008, in need of a change of scenery, she and a friend purchased 47 wooded acres in the mountains of southern Oregon. They intended to create their own community of artists, dubbed the Gypsy Café. Myshkin built a recording studio by hand from cob, a combination of clay, sand and straw. “I hit one of those moments in Portland where I had to stop for a while. I had to take a break from music and the business of music, and all that that entails. I wanted to set some roots in a rural space and create something a little larger than myself with other people.” Building the earthen-walled studio was her primary creative outlet for a time, a process of creating a “nest that I get to retreat to.” Once complete, she outfitted the studio with a portable ProTools digital recording rig. Within that sanctuary, she sifted through 25 songs she’d accumulated, methodically stitching together and tearing apart tracks collected on the road, “adding layers and chiseling them away.”
New Orleans-based contributors include Gillet, percussionist Gwendolyn Colman and violinist Neti Vaan, who appear on a song called “Welding & Sawing.” Harpist Luke Brechtelsbauer contributes to “Too Late in the World.” Organ, piano, soprano sax and a theremin also turn up in the mix. For the first time, Myshkin played bass and synthesizers, and built her own beats. She recorded harmonies with herself, multitracking her voice. Overall, the album synthesizes the genre-hopping of her New Orleans period with the electronic and post-rock influences of her Portland years. Much of what became “That Diamond Lust” predated her studio’s construction. But the album’s title track, a seven-plus minute meditation that closes the record, was crafted entirely in the earthen studio. Myshkin describes it as the “philosophizing heartbreak song, trying to figure out how to keep it all broken open, instead of just broken.”
She favors literate, vibrant metaphors over unadorned diary entries, simultaneously vivid and abstract. It is possible to appreciate the lyrics without realizing they apply so directly to the singer’s life. But knowing the back story adds a layer of richness to an already abundant record. “I make art to understand what’s going on in my life and in the world,” she said. “To try to make some kind of sense out of it, and explore ideas around it, and see if they lead me to other ideas. “When I’m performing a song, I’m usually reliving the story to some extent, or at least touching ground with it, knowing and feeling and being in touch with where it came from. “But I don’t like anything to be too obvious. I like subtlety. And I shoot for things that people can listen to over and over again, and get new layers out of, both musically and lyrically. That’s my hope.”
September / October 2005 - Myshkin's Ruby Warblers - Corvidae
"Two old gals from Gypsytown, drinking with a youngish Yorkshire man/ He is tattoed up and down, they are only marked by time's cruel hand," begins Myshkin on Corvidae. The story grabs and doesn't let go until you've traveled with her across time and landscapes, accompanied by a soundtrack of jazz-influenced guitar and swinging drumbeats -- and that's just the first tune. Every song is brilliant. 'Drunk" begins with train sounds, then a Django Reinhardt-style guitar. "Saving of the Day" incorporates electronic drum beats as Myshkin raps over the top: "When did we decide we could decide each other's course?" But strongest of all is "The Dance", a piano-infused story of life in a concentration camp: "I sleep...so I can dream...spin me round before I wake." Stuff this good just doesn't come along every day.
All Music Guide
Corvidae - Myshkin's Ruby Warblers - by Alex Henderson
Corvidae isn't the first album by Myshkin's Ruby Warblers, a band that singer/songwriter Myshkin formed in 2001 (after having been recording as a solo artist since the early '90s). But it is a fine place to get acquainted with their moody style of folk-rock, which draws on influences ranging from jazz, cabaret and the blues to East European gypsy music. With a name like Myshkin, it isn't surprising that the singer/songwriter (who wrote all of the songs on this 2005 release) would have some East European influences--and when Corvidae is playing, one often thinks of the musical contributions that gypsies have made in countries like Russia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. But Myshkin is very much an American--she grew up in the Midwest, which has attracted is share of East European immigrants over the years--and she certainly gets plenty of creative inspiration from the United States. Jazz, in fact, is an influence throughout this 41-minute disc; dusky, haunting gems like "Caledonia," "For Mimi in Jail," "Blackberry Winter" and "The Dance" essentially fall into the folk-rock category, but their debt to the jazz-noir/torch song aesthetic is obvious.
No one will accuse Myshkin of sounding like someone who doesn't have eclectic tastes; Corvidae gives the impression that within the course of several hours, she is quite capable of listening to everyone from Rickie Lee Jones to Billie Holiday to the great Romanian singer Maria Tanase (with perhaps a little Marlene Dietrich thrown in for good measure). But Corvidae, for all its risk-taking, never sounds forced or unnatural; while Myshkin is all over the place in terms of influences, her work never fails to sound totally organic on this excellent, if brief, CD.
Thursday, April 7, 2005; Page C04 - by Pamela Murray Winters
Myshkin Draws Listeners In With Tales of Wander
Tuesday, a day that brought a promise of spring, also brought Myshkin's Ruby Warblers to alight on the stage at Iota for a set that was both lyrical and politically pointed.
Fortunately, singer-guitarist Myshkin and her performing partner, bassist Sailor, emphasized the former over the latter. Myshkin, who has lived all over the country but now makes her home in Oregon, remarked that she was currently on "the wrong coast" and sang songs slamming industrialists, segregationists, meat purveyors and warmongers. But although she shares with Michelle Shocked an affinity for traditional acoustic music, she's blessedly free of the rhetorical excesses that weaken Shocked's performances. The self-described "gypsy torch punk chanteuse" is all about the sound: a rich blend topped with her broad-ranging, keening voice.
It was hard to escape the bird imagery in this vernal performance, from "Ruby Warbler," which featured an arresting, fluttering guitar figure, to "Bluebird," which asked, "Do you feel absurd / Calling out, calling out / To your false dawn?" Myshkin also offered several songs from the new Ruby Warblers album. Most notable was "Gypsytown," which she wrote after watching two old women drink a young man under the table in a Northern England pub: "Few are as rough as a Gypsytowner in her cups."
Chicago Free Press by Greg Shapiro
Described as "folk pop torch tronic," the 11 songs on Corvidae (Double Salt) by Myshkin's Ruby Warblers are timeless country jazz numbers with the occasional synthetic beat, placing them as firmly in today as tomorrow. Myshkin's steamy blues belt gives songs such as the finger-snapper "Gypsytown," the whiskey-soaked toe-tapper "Drunk" and the erratic heartbeat beat-box of "Saving The Day" their own distinct personalities. Like a queer Shivaree, Myshkin and company are unique unto themselves, which is why songs such as "Pipeline," "Human Cannonball," "Blackberry Winter" and "Bird of Paradise" are simply impossible to shake. This is one flock of birds you wouldn't mind having singing outside your window.
Left Off The Dial - leftoffthedial.com - 8/29/05
Corvidae - Myshkin's Ruby Warblers - Doublesalt - by Lucas Walker
The arc of Myshkin's career has been a long one. After years spent touring alone from her home base of New Orleans, the one-named singer gathered her Ruby Warblers in 2001. Since then, the band has continued to tour, establishing themselves in smaller venues across the East coast and Europe as an enigmatic fusion of jazz, folk, and blues.
Corvidae is burnished and lustrous, due in no small part to Myshkin's arresting and pervasive voice. It is the true warble here - throaty, smooth, an elastic tool that she has obviously honed through her touring and collaborations with other local artists. The band is as accomplished as its guitar-playing front woman, though - soft cello, bass, piano, seesawing violin, and brushed drums abound (pay special attention to the cello in "For Mimi in Jail" and "The Dance," and to the violin solos in "Blackberry Winter" and "Pipeline"). They even dare to use a few loops and samples, none of which are overpowering. The electronic touches one occasionally picks out only add a near ambient street feel to the album; it's like happening upon a tiny blues club with the door propped open to catch the breeze, carrying in traffic and voices other than the purr from the smoky stage.
Corvidae is a classic New Orleans album - blues, jazz, folk and messages of social and political struggle rolled into a smooth blend that is entirely Myshkin's own. From the first track to the last, it's not an album to raise your spirits, but it is absolutely perfect for slow evenings, hot afternoons, and drinking. This reviewer rarely has had the pleasure of contemplating such a beautiful album, which grows more complex on each repeated listen. This album is one of this reviewer's most pleasant discoveries and highest recommendations of 2005.
Rootstown Music Magazine (Belgium)
Up till a couple of years ago, Myshkin's name was mentioned here next to Mike West's, even though we remember being quite positive about her solo-projects Blue Gold (1998) and Why Do All The pretty(Country (ed)) Girls Leave (2000), both on Binky Records. Since then, a lot of things seem to have happened to Myshkin, who's operating from Portland, Oregon, these days. One of these things is the creation of a band, the Ruby Warblers, with whom she recorded 2 albums so far; the first one, Rosebud Bullets may sound a little unequal, it also shows some signs of the direction Myshkin is taking. I think, she's going to become this generation's Joni Mitchell, not less, not more. What do I mean by that ? Well, I mean songs that don't sound like they've been made to be pop-singles. Songs you have to listen to, before you're able to discover them but once you've got them, they're often "stay-ers ". On Rosebud (besides, "our" Neti Vaan plays more than just some fine fiddle-lines on it) you'll find a couple of these: the hopping King of Kankakee, for instance, or the super delicious Unearthed. They're the kind of song that makes you wonder why you never hear them on the radio. The triple answer is simple: because they have not been released as a single - because they have not been issued by big record companies - because they have not been put on the right desks.
On Corvidae, the Warblers seem to have found their definitive way and sound. Sailor Banks is on trumpet, organ, bass, guitar and piano and Scott Magee takes care of the percussion. The record is a nice, jazz-tinged collection of songs, where every now and then a dash of gypsy and a shot of punk are mixed into. I have no doubt that Myshkin is one of the greatest songwriters of her generation and on this one, she seems to have become an adult, mature songwriter. That leaves you listening rather breathless to each and every one of the 11 songs. The lyrics have something to say, Myshkin is singing so well and the arrangements are both rich and simple at the same time: rich in a way they're not obvious, simple in a way you get maximum effect with minimal input. This disc is never less then fascinating and most of the time it's just super.
Besides that, I want Myshkin's songs on the radio, NOW ! Songs like Saving of the Day and Candle to the Gun should be heard everywhere.
Dirty Linen Magazine
December 2005/January 2006 page 30/31 by Mitch Ritter
Concerts: Myshkin's Ruby Warblers at Imbibe, Portland OR 9/8/05
The Northwest's freestyle cellist of choice, Skip Von Kuske, curator of the Thursday night Diva Series at Imbibe (in Southeast Portland's blossoming Hawthorne District) had scheduled Myshkin's Ruby Warblers well before Hurricane Katrina made land, deluging New Orleans. Yet there we were at day 10 of the evacuation, with Crescent City transplant Myshkin taking the stage alongside her newly assembled Ruby Warblers with a faraway look in her eyes and her concerns clearly far removed from her moment as designated Diva Laureate.
Although she spent 2001 through aught two recording her internal apocalyptic masterpiece, Rosebud Bullets (DoubleSalt records) in the Ninth Ward Pickin' Parlor with long-time co-conspirator and Binky Records multi-instrumentalist Mike West behind the studio board, Myshkin chose to open with new songs drenched in toxic ooze.
"1,000 Gallon Hat" panned the skies above New York with 15 other planes and echoed a coda warning to "see through the lies of emancipation" even as the chorus bellowed "put on your party hat / all for a thousand gallons of gas / put on your party hat and dance." Myshkin slipped between a tiny tenor guitar and precisely picked steel strings as her rhythm section of Leila Chieko on drum trap-set and Sailor Banks on ominous upright bass linked up in double-time tempo. She'd frantically written a tune she played that might be called "bayouwater" on day 1 of Hurricane Katrina, venting churning emotions spiked with lucid observations like "hasn't rained all summer here / now the sky is crying through the sunshine / for you New Orleans / I feel like a traitor / a prodigal daughter / and I ain't never going home / How can you leave a place that breaks so big and hard / bodies floating down the bywater / grab me by the ankle wrap around my thigh / plant my feet in fertile soil I get that faraway look in my eye / my body floating down the bywater / feel like a traitor a prodigal daughter / I ain't never going home."
Indeed, the songs from Myshkin's farewell to Louisiana, 2002's Rosebud Bullets, and from her hello to the dreamy moist Northwest coast on 2004's Corvidae (DoubleSalt Records), take on visionary qualities when listened to through the prism of unfolding natural disaster. Von Kuske's wicked arco gusts on cello, overtaken by Chieko's internal combustion cymbal-shorn traps, opened the late set as Myshkin leaned into Banks' tense double bass premonitions on 2002's oracle come-aground, "Big Wind". Myshkin had written and recorded this back in the Ninth Ward Pickin' Parlor to reflect an internal storm, as she once made clear to a fan who approached her after a gig lauding her eye for Armageddon. Could she have been aware back then of the President's appointment of a FEMA chief whose inadequate credentials were not in emergency relief services, but as chairman of the National Arabian Horse Association? With it's all-hell-breaking-loose tempo change to a fiddle breakdown transcribed for wailing alto/guitar/bass/drum-driven rave, "Big Wind"'s spiral into crescendo carried the prophetic lines in 2002: "Flowery cross on the roadside bend / big wind gonna take it away / trees round the barn and the chicken in the pen / big wind gonna take it away / black angus in the pasture running faster than you can catch her / on your daddy's famous arabian / big wind gonna come it'll all come undone / you better figure out what's worth saving / get in your car and drive…/ better figure out what's worth keeping dry…"
Other latent images plucked from Myshkin and the Ruby Warblers musical maelstrom included "Gypsytown" and "Drunk" from her recent Portland recording, both evocative and unsparing reports from within her adopted Pacific Milieu. Perhaps most volatile of all the new pieces is "Pipeline", with it's femme fatale narrator capable of creeping out a close listener, as she doth protest a tad too insistently that she doesn't know who could've set the spark to the pyre, or who put those holes in the pipeline. The Ruby Warbler sings: "All that I know / gasoline flowed from those holes / like silver wine." Home in on Myshkin's fugitives and 'fugees and Ruby Warblers. Trust me on this one.
CD REVIEWS by Jon Sobel March 15 2005
Corvidae Myshkin's Ruby Warblers Double Salt Records
This is an unusual fusion of cabaret, singer-songwriter, lounge-jazz and gypsy music, yet it's not quite any of those things. Myshkin's promo material says "Gypsy torch punk" but the word "punk" must just be an attention-grabber, because although there are faint hints of anger and brashness in some of her lyrics, there's nothing remotely punk on this CD. Punk is rebellious. Punk is snotty. Punk is intentionally ugly. But Myshkin is world-weary, resigned, with much beauty in her music and in the achy thickness of her voice.
Also, while punk's roots are in Britain and America, this music hardly seems a product of Anglo-Saxon culture at all in spite of its jazzy elements and English words. I hear echoes of French chanteuses, of Jacques Brel, of Spanish and Gypsy music. OK, maybe a little bit of Elvis Costello too, circa Spike. And though she's now based in Portland OR, and there's plenty of mist here, it sounds as if Myshkin's years in New Orleans were most formative to this music, which has both the prettiness and the grittiness of salt air and ancient streets.
In one format or another, Myshkin has been making recordings for over a decade. Here the singer-songwriter-guitarist and her able bandmates weave multicolored soundscapes for bittersweet (heavy on the bitter) tales of love and wartime. "Drunk" is haunting tune about not putting down roots. "Caledonia" suggests Albeniz set to a electronic beat. "Pipeline" is truly creepy, with its innocent-sounding melody and lyrics of near-surrealistic horror:
I don't know who put the holes in the pipeline
I don't know why there were holes in the pipeline
All that I know, gasoline flowed from those holes like silver wine
I caught that gasoline in any old jar I could find
Caught that gasoline in any old bottle
One hundred or more of my neighbors caught gasoline by my side
The fumes made you dizzy the gas burned your skin
The fumes made you sick and the gas burned your skin
But we shouted and laughed like it was silver or silk we were bathing in
True story? Don't know. Searing imagery? Check
Though it doesn't sound very much like any other particular artist, this CD should appeal to fans of Annie Lennox, Leonard Cohen, Erik Rohmer films, Felix Mendelssohn, Marianne Faithfull, PJ Harvey, Elvis Costello, and Yo-Yo Ma, to name a few. Myshkin sums up a pretty reasonable approach to art and life in "Bird of Paradise":
Very little we must say
But it's good if we say it anyway
Help you loose your storms it helps me
Find all my scattered pearls
The Village Voice
Seven-Year Ache - by Anya Kamenetz - October 16 - 22, 2002
Mike West - New South - Squirrel
Myshkin's Ruby Warblers - Rosebud Bullets - Double Salt
New Orleans is a fine place to become someone else, or to luxuriate in obscurity of your own making. Mike West and Myshkin have done both in their time. As husband and wife, they were acoustic iconoclasts, nearly lost in the brassy blare of New Orleans's cash-money genres. Mike, a crack-skinny, wild-eyed, longhaired hippie who put the red back in redneck, played what he called "levee-billy music" on banjo and lightning-fast mandolin, with his better half on yodel, washboard, and spoons. Myshkin, a sturdy woman with cowboy boots and enigmatic Dutch features, also sang in a smoky alto with her own band on occasion. They wrote about casinos "cleaning up" the French Quarter, drive-by shootings in the Garden of Eden, the time someone tipped Mike a $100 bill. They played beat-up barrooms and coffeehouses and toured 100 nights a year. Few of their scattered fans would guess that Mike, Australian-born, had started his musical career in eye makeup, fronting a campy English cult band called the Man From Delmonte. I never heard much about Myshkin before she changed her name, except that she used to live in a teepee in Wyoming or someplace, and most of her songs on their 1997 joint album, Econoline, were about loving women.
Last year their seven-year marriage came to an end. Being hard-luck connoisseurs, they have each emerged with albums smart and sad and weird enough to leave regional pigeonholes behind. The albums are, in part, a record of their long partnership-Myshkin sings harmony on Mike's New South, and Mike recorded and mastered Myshkin's Rosebud Bullets. But Myshkin's clearly found a new mission, while Mike sticks to what he's left with. New South is a ramshackle junk symphony of washboard, tuba, coffee can, and steel guitar, not to mention five-string. But the album's greatest asset is Mike's literate, ironic storytelling. He sees eye to eye with white-trash types the South wants to forget about: old guys still fighting the Civil War in bars, lesbian motorcycle mechanics, petty criminals who hit their wives. He's been a Southerner almost 10 years now, lost more than a few hard-playing, hard-drinking friends, and not much that he can see changes but for the worse: "The plantation owners all moved to the Gulf/bought beachfront property/while sharecroppers play the slots in Biloxi." Myshkin lends a poignant harmony on "Love's Wake," which has their love on a respirator, in a bare hospital room.
Rosebud Bullets is a different animal. PJ Harvey and Beth Orton, not Jimmie Rodgers and Bill Monroe, are the spirits invoked. Done for good with country kitsch, the former Mrs. West and her new band, the Ruby Warblers, strike out with a restless, caterwauling freedom. Long strumming intros let the pressure drop like before a tornado till she breaks in growling. By turns mournful and violent, her heartsick lyrics are answered by fiddles and a clarinet with a gypsy hiccup. The women in her songs, "Cory Jo," "Annabelle," "Rosie," may be beautiful, lost ballad heroines, but her first-person narrators are stronger: "The war of love was kicking my ass/And I had a motto I'd try anything twice." Heart busted open, she revels in the blood-red life pouring out.
CD Review - Rosebud Bullets – Myshkin’s Rub Warblers
Wow. Myshkin is a rarity among today’s singer songwriters. She is a poet who actually has something to say, and when she does it, the music complements the lyrics without obscuring the words. She draws from numerous musical traditions, not just rock and blues, and often eschews the standard verse – chorus construction. There’s the Middle Eastern-inflected Ruby Warbler, a confessional sung with a pure melancholy that recalls Billy Holiday. And yes, she warbles. Beautifully. King of Kankakee and Unearthed, among others, have a klezmer flavor. The lyrics are smart, many are compressed short stories. Other highlights: Happy Hollow and Northern Coast. There is a nice but brief hidden track that is a solo fiddle reprise of the Ruby Warbler melody. Think of her songs as aural films. These are dark, dense, exceedingly personal tunes rendered beautifully. A wonderful discovery.
New Orleans Times Picayune
4/26/02 - Myshkin's pain yields beautiful "Rosebud Bullets"
By Keith Spera
Myshkin's 2000 release "Why Do All The Country Girls Leave?" was a joyous romp through a kaleidoscope of styles, from country-blues to pop to "gypsy-torch-punk," a category of the singer's own creation. On her new "Rosebud Bullets, she aspired to craft a more cohesive album, one that is bound by a common theme.
That theme, she says, is "heartbreak. And heartbreak. And heartbreak." She wrote and recorded most of "Rosebud Bullets" in the wake of her split last summer from her husband and longtime creative partner, singer songwriter Mike West.
Despite, or perhaps because of, its unhappy origins, "Rosebud Bullets" is a gorgeous, often bittersweet body of work. With her band, the Ruby Warblers - upright bassist John Lutz and drummer Scott Magee, who will join her Wednesday at the Blue Nile for a CD release party with fiddler Neti Vaan and clarinetist Ben Schenck - she has crafted a record that draws on torch songs, Celtic influences, Gypsy music and other exotica, stamped with her singular, sometimes haunting, alto.
Always a formidable presence, that alto makes great strides on "Rosebud Bullets." Often cast in bare settings, its richness and subtle power are striking.
"With any instrument, and with voice as well, you stay on a plateau for a while, and then you make a little leap and suddenly you're in this other space in your growth as an artist," Myshkin said. "I fell like I had one of those little jumps. I'm able to use my voice more emotively. It's a matter of technical things, but it's also an attitude thing. I think I found a new passion in performance and singing that changed the way I sing."
She will likely find new inspiration in August, when she leaves New Orleans, her home since 1993, for Portland. The move is necessary, she believes, for both personal and professional reasons. Friends, an abundance of gigs and some of the west coast's most inexpensive living await her there.
She knows that leaving new Orleans will not be easy. "I've learned so much here," she said. "I feel like I've gone to school here for nine years. But I feel like I've done what I can do in New Orleans. I need to be in some place that feels more connected to the rest of the world. It's hard to be taken on your own terms in this town. This place is wonderful; it's a magic kingdom here. It's a beautiful town, and I love it. But it's time."
For years, she and West collaborated on each other's albums in between barnstorming tours around the country. West recorded and mixed "Rosebud Bullets" after their break-up; Myshkin is optimistic that they can remain friends. "We found new ways to work together, which was good, " she said. "We did some great work together over the years."
Her work has hit a new high water mark on "Rosebud Bullets", as her lyrics match her poignant voice. She wrote the lines "I'll be here all the winter/ come summer I'll be somewhere cooler again," from the song "Ruby Warbler," before she realized she'd be making a summertime move to Portland. "I think it often works that you write stuff and you're not really sure what you're writing about until later," she said.
"Rosebud Bullets" feels more like a film to her, as it conjures many visuals. Such a perspective accounts for the dramatic arc of the songs. The final cut, "Northern Coast," is a farewell to both the record and Myshkin's time in New Orleans. It closes with, "I dream of the northern coast/ California fog and dogpatch grass/ passes clearing red and roan/ manzanita and madrone/ I dream of the cliffy coast/ I see jumping women floating down/ gowns that match the spray and foam/ all the strings swell as the credits roll."
One club where New Orleans based Myshkin and her band play labels her music “gypsy torch punk” and it’s not a bad description: Drummer Scott Magee keeps a percussive edge under the dreamy beauty of Myshkin’s voice and the sensuous flow of her lyrics – while the instrumentation – including bass clarinet, violins, harmonica and piano – conjures up rainy nights in a Budapest or Berlin cafÈ.
Folk Roots Magazine (UK)
Myshkin - Why Do All The Country Girls Leave?
Binky 1024 - review by Ian Kearey
Myshkin's excellent last album, Blue Gold, concentrated on her songwriting abilities and the songs were set against understated backings. This time, however, she's kicked out the jams (as we oldsters like to say) and given each set of lyrics a very different kind of backing, to the point of naming each style with the title. So you have Country Girls (Rock), The Last Year (Ska-billy), Sugar Man (Polka), and so on, through to Yvonne's Bar (Yorkshire Brass) and even Market Town (Folk). Commercial suicide, lady! But the hell with that - this album is a brilliantly cohesive work that confirms Myshkin as one of the best songwriters around.
All the tracks feature Myshkin on mandolin and guitar plus husband Mike West on guitar and banjo, Matt Perrine on bass and Scott Magee on drums; and the variety of songs perfectly fits the subject matter of each song, without being too obvious or laboured. The hard blues of Headstrong - "you wanna slip through the cracks, but your eighteen and pregnant honey, there's nothing subtle about that", the libidinous polka of Sugar Man, and the menacing swing of Apricot Tree - "you and your new junky boyfriend and me, falling apart under the apricot tree" - all frame the songs exactly. If anything, this album's nearest neighbor is David Ackles' American Gothic, with which it shares it's sweep of Americana: the little boy's painful realization of slavery, loss and cruelty in Market Town, low life and revenge in Ruby Ann, the passing of time in Yvonne's Bar (not so much Yorkshire Brass as the soul horns on James Carr's records) and the history of the Conquistadores in Bojador - each song encapsulates a period or emotion, without sentimentality but with empathy and compassion, not to mention tenderness and pure craziness at times. Oh yes, and she sings like a dream, too, projecting herself into each character just enough to make the point - no more.
The moment a reviewer starts talking about an album being An Achievement it's usually time to turn to ...And The Rest or the Biff cartoon, but this really does represent something special.
Offbeat Magazine 5/02
by Alex Rawls
Myshkin's Ruby Warblers - Rosebud Bullets - (Double Salt)
Too many New Orleans records are too eager to please. Like the kid who invites everybody to come over and play his Nintendo because he's afraid no one will like him if he doesn't, too many bands want people to dance to the grooves they're comfortable with and hear songs they can get right away. As a result, a lot of local records lack the mystery and challenge that are the hallmarks of the best art. These thoughts are provoked by Rosebud Bullets, the new album by Myshkin's Ruby Warblers. Myshkin speaks in a personal lyrical and musical voice on the record, and the result is one of the strongest local records of the new year.
Folk may be the tradition Myshkin comes out of, but she isn't constrained by the form. Instead, it's the launching pad for songs you might expect-"Cory Jo"-and songs you won't-"Kankakee," the latter a galloping, exotic song about pirates, kings and conquest. There are a number of similar songs, each story having a purpose, but the purpose isn't immediately clear. Similarly, her torchy vocal on the elegant "Ruby Warbler" marks the song as a melancholy one, but the exact cause and nature of the melancholy is something listeners will figure out over time.
Though Rosebud Bullets isn't an immediate disc, it isn't a difficult disc. The songs don't require unusual patience or endurance, but they don't fit comfortably into one genre. Like P.J. Harvey, Myshkin has vision, and Rosebud Bullets is the product of someone who has realized "pretension" is only a dirty word if the art doesn't work.
10/02 - Myshkin's Ruby Warblers - Rosebud Bullets
Recorded and mixed by Mike West at The Ninthward Pickin' Parlor Mastered by Joe Doherty at DRR Masters in New Orleans, LA Produced by Myshkin Released on Double Salt Records - Reviewed by Sherry Sly
The mono-named Myshkin writes music that tempts one to set off to new lands with nothing but the shirt on your back and the boots on your feet with memories of lost loves to keep you warm at night. “Where does the road go?” is the first line of “Scarecrow,” the opening song on Rosebud Bullets. Myshkin's music is often labeled gypsy-torch-punk, but perhaps a whole new genre should be invented for her, something along the lines of World Americana if you can imagine. Lyrics rich in American imagery coupled with music that draws on such international influences as latin jazz and klezmer music.
Myshkin's road has snaked from Kansas to New Orleans and ends up in an paean to Oregon in “Northern Coast.” The last lines of the album read, “Dream the springs of Oregon / Rivers carving gorges in / Armor I wear traveling / Till I find myself bare again / Only clothed in douglas fir / Feel the chill of clearcut earth / Women dance in stocking feet / Smiles as wide as small town streets.” Fitting, as Myshkin moved from New Orleans to Portland in August of 2002. The New Orleans influence in Myshkin's music is so potent you can almost smell the magnolia trees. Songs like “Rosie” are so evocative and timeless they seem like traditionals: “Are you pale my Rosie / Are you pale indeed? / Walking with your rope / Off to the hanging tree / Back behind the roses / Back behind the shed / While the sun is rising /A bloody red.”
The band is called the warblers for a reason as Myshkin's deep smoky alto, which brings to mind PJ Harvey and Beth Orton, is rich with melismatic phrasing and vibrato. Such words have been given a bad name by certain soulless overproduced artists who can be grouped generally as “divas,” but Myshkin's use of such techniques is not about showing off technical acumen but about what suits the song. That said, perhaps it's the contrast, but the two stand out songs on this album are more mellow ones. Her guitar registers are low, and when her voice matches that lower register, the tension caused by her restraint is exquisite. In “King of Kanakee” her voice sounds as if it is sung through a bullhorn, which along with the fast tempo guitar work combine to form a fascinating '20s big band meets bluegrass sound. In the achingly evocative “Cities,” lyrics put together simple rhymes in surprising ways. While what sounds a lot like a saw plays softly in the background, Myshkin sings lyrics ala Magnetic Field's Stephen Merritt: “We like it dark but it don't have to be / We are free as two birds can be / Singing freaking free in this freak city / On the street I can kiss you / Here in San Francisco”
It's said there's only two stories in the world, someone takes a trip or a stranger comes to town. Rosebud Bullets is the story of Myshkin's trip through a magical America and Portland is lucky to have such a stranger come to town.
A night at Mike’s with one of today’s best kept secrets
John Estus - Entertainment Editor
Smooth enough to lure jazz addicts under her spell, mystical enough to maintain her Cajun stems, peppy enough to turn heads in a gruff college bar, rootsy enough to keep the cowboy boots kicking, chocked full of enough attitude to move the toughest skinned listeners and brilliant enough to put the best songwriters of the past century to the ultimate test. Oh, and one of the most arresting, fresh voices since Jeff Buckley, just for good measure. She only has one name, but Myshkin is no diva. Wednesday night, while huddled in the corner of the stage at Mike’s College Bar, she came across as a biting testament to the few remaining artists true to the art, not the dollar. With a crowd of next to nothing in the palm of its hand, Myshkin’s Ruby Warbler’s ran through two sets of songs coming mostly from their gossamer 2002 release, “Rosebud Bullets.” It’s Myshkin’s sixth release in the past decade, and the Portland, Ore., based New Orleans native indicated through her sturdy but vulnerable stage presence that she is as proud as she is affected by these gloriously crafted tunes.
Her lyrics are classic transcendentalism, dwelling deep in nature, decorated with vibrant symbolism paralleling the rolling fields of her mind. Her vivid analysis and stories are so dead on that they’re often times funny, maybe because she is so observant and eloquent simultaneously or maybe because it’s simply so unbelievable. She’s a nearly flawless poet, a striking artist (she does all the artwork for her CDs, and it’s all stunning), an accomplished guitarist and above all an essential musical voice.
With Brent Martens strumming the upright bass and Scott Magee exercising perfect and eclectic drum theory on his three-piece kit, Myshkin’s tightly-tuned guitar work secretly disappeared into the worldly rhythms. Opening up with a down tempo version of smooth blues number “Rosebud Bullets,” Myshkin’s Ruby Warbler’s easily laid down the first of many of music’s most emotionally driven genres. The group followed with a hot-footed Cajun jam, then totally reversed the course of the show with a flawless change in tempo to a jazz-structured suite that later broke down into a flat-footed folk boogie with Magee’s tightly-crafted drumming holding the band down to earth. One of the most instantaneously gratifying aspects of Myshkin’s Ruby Warbler’s set came in their ability to deconstruct and intertwine standard rhythms from all corners of the musical spectrum into one breathing entity. During the elongated “Ruby Warbler” jam, Myshkin stretched her heart-pounding, bird-like alto voice further than any other point in the set, seeming to drift further and further away, out of the College Bar and back into nature where she finds most of her lyrical solace. “Cory Jo” is a standout track on “Rosebud Bullets” and opened up Myshkin’s Ruby Warbler’s second set of the night. Myshkin is an artist as well, and her skills on the canvas add a touch of life to the song with the chilling images that are evoked in the verse “calling me up every night, sneaking around my backyard. You’re looking inside out and charred, like the winter trees thirsting.”
Martens and Magee added a few rounds of un-miked harmony to the second set, balancing Myshkin’s seemingly impossible melodies with steady, rootsy call-and-response rounds. The bouncy Latin and bluegrass mix in “Rosie” managed to spur a few of the lackluster patrons to their feet for a few hapless dances. Myshkin spits her vocals with an unrelenting fury in “Rosie,” still coming across as a beautiful, commanding voice but adding an almost urban time structure to the delivery. In between the resident bar heckler (when Myshkin asked early on if everything sounded all right, the only response this fellow could muster was “beer!”), the group of shot-slamming girls celebrating their friend’s “big 2-1” while disregarding the mystical on-stage artistry, Myshkin’s Ruby Warbler’s still managed to play a set of beautifully crafted, energetic, worldly music that Stillwater rarely ever has the privilege to see.
Myshkin is off to the culturally thriving Lawrence, Kan., tonight for a sure to be successful show at The Bottleneck, but the baker’s dozen of enthralled listeners at Mike’s College Bar Wednesday night were treated to an evening hosted by one of music’s finest lyricists in decades — and one of the industry’s only “journeywomen.” Myshkin is a jewel, hidden beneath many rigid, unforgiving stones. She is a jewel that should be treasured if found, and Stillwater (surprise) forgot to find her. Hopefully, she will give us one more chance.
The Netherlands largest dutch language music website
review by Maurice Dielemans
“This one is for the sailors, living in our visions and drunk on our own sweet wine” is written in tiny letters at the back of the beautiful cd cover. That’s a big promise. And yes, like some sort of sympathetic wizard, the New Orleans singer Myshkin serves you –with a warm and gorgeous mix of very macabre folksongs and neo romantic gipsy music .
She continues her journey that she started on her 2 other cd’s Blue Gold and Why Do All Country Girls Leave? In contrast with other - let’s call it post-feminist - singers, Myshkin dreams about the past and surrounds her poetic Rosebuds†Bullets with a glare of mystery and pirate romance.
Why this New Orleans swamp singer Myshkin –and her very good band The Ruby Warblers - is choosing for eastern European fairy tail polka’s remains a big guess, but for sure Myshkin is begging to be heard.
CD Review: Rosebud Bullets, Myshkin’s Ruby Warblers
I first met Myshkin in 1994 at the humble wooden music-house The Neutral Ground in uptown New Orleans. Her smooth voice haunted me from first note. A sinfully good combo of plucking, strumming, and singing lured me, and a room full of old-school Southern musicians, through the entire set. I think I actually gasped at her first long vocal note. Whew. Myshkin’s Ruby Warblers put out the latest album “Rosebud Bullets” with the help of her long time friend and musical partner in crime Mike West at The Ninth Ward Picking Parlor in New Orleans. It is stunning. I was suddenly transported to years and years of smoky parlors and ship decks where ladies high-kick with raucous laughter and sailors dance and strum the deep melanocholy that true travelers know. Myshkin’s Ruby Warblers have given us a taste of the magic that is Rosebud Bullets. From the first track, Myshkin on acoustic, electric, and tenor guitars, Scott Magee on drums and bass clarinet, Juhn Lutz on upright bass, Neti Vaan on fiddle and phonofiddle, Ben Schenck on Clarinet, Christopher Trapani on Piano, and Laura Freeman on harmonica offer the rousing and soulful mix of sounds that echo New Orleans and ten thousand other musical haunts all at once. This is truly one of those great albums where each songs brings your memory to a face you love, loved, or just can’t seem to forget, no matter how hard you try. Seldom does one find an album that feels like a gift each time it is heard. This is one of those albums. Welcome to the Pacific Northwest, Myshkin. We hope you stick around a while.
“And I had a motto. I’d try anything twice. And if it was still hurting and wrong, I’d keep trying til I got it hurting right…I’m a ruby warbler, and blood-rich my song rings, with the trills and the clicking and ticking of time, and waiting in the wings in the wings…” – title track, Rosebud Bullets, Myshkin’s Ruby Warblers.
Gambit Weekly - New Orleans
4/30/02 - Myshkin's Ruby Warblers
Rosebud Bullets - (Double Salt Records)
by David Lee Simmons
"I dream of the northern coast," Myshkin chirps on "Northern Coast," the closing track of her Ruby Warblers project, Rosebud Bullets. "I dream of the cliffy coast/ I see jumping women floating down/ Gowns that match the spray and foam/ All the strings swell as the credits roll ... ."
And with the clank of a gate, and the lament of a fiddle, Myshkin closes the chapter of what may be her best album yet, and her stay in New Orleans. After about a decade of finely crafted, genre-bending folk songs and collaborations with Mike West, Myshkin will pack her bags this summer and shove off to Portland. Why? Pick up a copy of Rosebud Bullets and find out for yourself. This travelogue of discovery, desire and disconnection provides all the clues for an artist who, despite her wondrous imagery and songbird of a voice (and countless Big Easy Award nominations), was never fully appreciated in the cradle of jazz.
But Rosebud Bullets isn't about the limits of New Orleans; it's about the possibilities that await outside. "I let my halo go/ Here in San Diego," she sings on "Cities," adding, "And goddess knows it feels right/ Here in the city of you/ What was heavy is light/ Say goodbye to the night." The album is marked by these moments of transition, urged along by Myshkin's backing band of drummer Scott Magee, bassist John Lutz, fiddler Neti Vaan, clarinetist Ben Schenck and pianist Christopher Trapani, with old friend Laura Freeman on harmonica.
Rosebud Bullets is everything 2000's free-for-all Why Do All the Cowgirls Leave? wasn't, a focused gem that Myshkin can take with her to the Pacific Northwest, and leave behind with her fans -- both old and very new.
Where Y'at Magazine 4/02
By Jes Burns
Myshkin's Ruby Warblers, Rosebud Bullets
Wow...I just can't think of any word more fitting to describe my feelings towards the new release by Myshkin's Ruby Warblers. Wow... Rosebud Bullets is an amazing album.
The sound is rambling folk with touches of gypsy, rock, jazz, and an intangible that keeps me coming back for more. Myshkin does quite a bit of picking work in the lower register of the guitar, and this sets a dark tone for the album. Her voice is diverse, but has a signature warble that captures intense emotion like a tissue of tears. The warble is fitting, not just for conveyance of her music, but it completes the bird motif that pervades the album.
Though every track is worthy of mention in this review, space restricts me to a few favorites. Like all great bands (i.e. the Monkees), Rosebud Bullets includes a theme song. "Ruby Warbler" is a dark, nostalgic trip into the persona of a woman whose past is lost. "And I had a motto/ I'd try anything twice/ and if it was still hurting and wrong I'd keep trying/ 'til I got it hurting right." The song is lyrically tight and builds from a sad tip-toe to a frenzied, repetitive assault by violin and guitar. It's an exhausting trip.
"Cory Jo" is the track that best exemplifies the lower register guitar work. It is intense with forays into devotion, temporary insanity, and fear. "Giving me that look like you can read me like a braille book/ but are your fingers calloused hard?/ are we gonna wind up like that Texas man/ had the world's hardest hands/ like some fire had burned him up from inside/ for a long time?" This is the best translation of paranoia through music that I've ever heard.
The title track "Rosebud Bullets" is a slow dirge wrought with passion. "Happy Hollow" makes me happy, because I'm a sucker for a social message. It speaks to the potential evil of materialism and technology. Then there's "Unearthed" and "Annabelle" (Yee-haw! A song in seven-eight!) and "Big Wind" and "Rosie" and "Black Braids," a song like night on the edge of a hurricane. CURSE THE WORD LIMIT!
Truly, Rosebud Bullets is the most amazing album I've heard in years. Why don't more people know about Myshkin? Myshkin's Ruby Warblers' CD release party is coming up May 1st at the Blue Nile. If the album is any indicator, it is bound to be an amazing show.
by Andrew Calhoun
Myshkin - Why Do All The Country Girls Leave? - (Binky Records)
Myshkin hails from New Orleans, frequently touring with partner Mike West. She's also a member of the Little Red Hen women's booking/music cooperative, which operated a seductive, buzzing guerrilla showcase room at the 2001 Folk Alliance Conference in February. Myshkin's a literate, musically eclectic singer-songwriter with something true and wise to offer.
The tray card lists fifteen songs each followed by a different musical category (rock, ambient, waltz, ska-billy, soul, jazz, yorkshire brass, etc.). A careful listen shows, she's not kidding. What's special here, aside from her dexterous and earthy musicianship, is Myshkin's sense of history. The peoples' history, not the textbook version. In "Apricot Tree," (swing) it's neighborhood history
and i did like the rush and the silvery speed
but i could never handle all that belly full of need
cause my life then was like some very pregnant seed
that could not find any soil to scratch a hollow in and breed
and every day after work that is how it'd be in that little tiny house under
the apricot tree you and your new junky boyfriend and me falling apart under
the apricot tree...
From "Yvonne's Bar":
"kids pass on pogo sticks the ripped screen door of Yvonne's old bar there on
the corner two blocks off the avenue and there's no oaks at all and the
houses are small and the houses are cut in two and kids ain't played with pogo
sticks since before me or you existed..."
"Market Town (Folk!)" rambles slowly into a implacable portrayal of the
obscene, appalling horror of slavery. It opens with a rustic scene of a boy going
to town with his father to trade "their tobacco for coffee and tea."
was a man named green in the market town bound for New Orleans that last
stop down and James and his father went to see the man's
wares in a little yard hidden from curious stares.
now green the soul driver a whip in his hand set his stock to dancing and look aren't they happy but even young James could see the difference in style between a grimace of pain and a smile was an old man of sixty, boot black in his hair for to make him look forty still plenty of work in there was a woman with two daughters and a girl with one son and jim's father's eyes fixed on that little one...
so take care what you do for your market town for your oil in barrels and your money in banks you can kick dust over the blood on the ground but you're still whipping people to dance and even a child will see that..."
There's a couple of classic-sounding love songs here, "Birds of a Feather" (jazz) and "Sugarman" (polka); all the performances carry unforced heart and authority. This is a beautiful voice. The only song I'll complain about is the title track, which features the trick of narrator as transparent jerk, maybe an OK place to start for a satirist, but, as one of few contemporary songwriters willing and able to engage reality without blinders, Myshkin doesn't need the device.
It's here - life, in its blood and mess and hope. This one's worth tracking down. Myshkin's the finest songwriter I've run across since Dave Carter emerged from obscurity a couple of years back.