Magana’s latest album ‘You Are Not a Morning Person’ finds the singer-songwriter observing the different ways in which we all grow up and grow old. It’s inspired by the lives of people she’s met while touring the world with wide-ranging acts including Mitski, Lady Lamb and bluegrass artist Laura Cortese.
The confusingly titled ‘The End’ opens the album in ambient fashion as it blends the sounds of footsteps and background chatter with something more altogether more cinematic. This is followed by the theatrical art rock of ‘Who Am I’, a sad song that finds Magana lamenting a lost love and pondering her place in the world: ‘Where are my children? Did they leave me here to wither and die?’ ‘Face in a Locket’ is gentler but no less emotional as Magana’s ethereal vocals talk about cruelty (‘you say no one comes round here’) with the same kind of tenderness we’re used to from Sufjan Stevens. ‘Jenny Don’t Leave’ continues in the melancholic vein as Magana looks back on difficult conversations and pleads ‘Hold on to your dreams, darling, please don’t breathe’.
‘Trouble and I’’s opening reminded us of ‘Penny Lane’, albeit with lyrics about troubles and fears following you around, while ‘Morning Person’ has a pacier intro that leads it into the sweet spot between Mitski and Ben Folds. ‘No More Friends’ harks back to the ‘60s with a soulful sound, although its lyrics find Magana wanting to ditch her friends to hang out with someone who lets her be herself: ‘I just want to spend my time with you, because they don’t understand me like you do. You always tell the truth’. ‘Iodine’ is slower and submissive (‘I will bow down in regret. Pick the flowers and I find our garden dead. I have hurt and I have lied’), but has a dark edge that leads to an experimental path – which continues through to the Radiohead-esque ‘Our TV’. Opening with tribal drumming and potent guitar hooks, this song finds Magana telling the subject, in no uncertain terms, to sort themselves out: ‘The world doesn’t owe you anything. Why do you think it has to? What do you think it owes you?’
The closing ‘Stay a While’ has a DIY feel that recalls the slightly erratic but pure sound of the early Bright Eyes albums – especially when Magana pleads: ‘Say you’ll stay, say you won’t leave me’. Like Magana, you might not be a morning person, but this beautiful record is sure to brighten up your day – whenever you put it on.