Back in the late sixties and early seventies, when artists like Emitt Rhodes, Todd Rundgren, and that Paul fella from The Beatles made records all by themselves it was a noteworthy thing. It’s been done plenty of times since.
In her modest home studio, Lawrence’s Heidi Lynne Gluck made such a “solo” recording. On The Only Girl in the Room, Gluck sings and plays every note. And she made a terrific record.
Gluck has an extensive resume as touring and session musician, including a stint in the band Some Girls with Juliana Hatfield and recordings with Margot & the Nuclear So and Sos. A 10-year Lawrencian, Gluck played previously in The Only Children with her ex-husband, Josh Berwanger.
The Only Girl in the Room is a refreshing EP (the first of four slated for release on KC’s Lotuspool Records), a focused gem of songwriting and performance. With these five songs, three co-written with Kenny Childers, Gluck makes a persuasive case for her art.
Gluck’s melodies are both composed and natural. Her poetic but unpretentious lyrics reflect on relationships, and on identity and destiny. Gluck’s voice is not a powerful instrument, but it has character and quiet power. Her sensitive musicianship creates a discreet emotional undertow.
On the title track Gluck’s phrasing is subtly swinging, evoking singers like Rickie Lee Jones and Carol Van Dyk (Bettie Serveert), women who can pull off a smoky ballad better than the run of the mill singer-songwriter. The lyrics convey loneliness and isolation, but a certain pride and resolve at the same time.
Gluck’s chamber-pop production values are likely a product of both design and thrift; their economy gives the songs focus. “Target Practice” is a nuanced look at personal and social weariness and mistrust. Gluck’s admiration for Jon Brion—especially his production work with Aimee Mann—is evident here. “One of Us Should Go,” guitar-based and closer to the folk idiom than much of Only Girl, recalls Paul Simon’s early songs, with a bridge that tilts toward Brian Wilson melodically.
Gluck is a convincing multi-instrumentalist; perhaps most at home as a bass player. Her bass lines, simple and supple, give “Orchids” an affecting throb. She has a fine ear for details, images of “your perfect shoulders” and a timely shift to falsetto highlight the insinuating melody.
Only Girl closes with “Where Will They Bury Me.” Death and the deposit of one’s remains is not typical pop song material, but it’s stock and trade for blues and folk music. Gluck’s Rickie Lee- ilt, and a lyric worthy of Tom Waits, favors a meditation on family and origins–more than death per se. “Where” sucks you in with a chorus melody quietly evocative of the maudlin sixties hit “Last Kiss,” (J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers … or Pearl Jam?) a tragi-comic ditty about a dude losing his gal in a car wreck. It lends a familiarity, leavening the solemnity of the lyric.
The job of an EP is simple—to leave you hungering for an entire album of material from the artist. The Only Girl in the Room is a varied, inviting, and brief recital that introduces Heidi Lynne Gluck, and makes you want more.
The Deli Magazine was born in NYC's Attorney Street in 2004, in the shape of a print issue with a then unknown band on its cover, called Grizzly Bear. Ths NYC blog came in 2005, then the SF one in 2006, and then 9 more in the following years. The Deli is focused on the coverage of emerging bands and solo artists with a 100% local focus - no exceptions!