Mary Strand

REVIEW: Mary Strand “Golden Girl”


Mary Strand – Golden Girl

A generous dip into 60s pop female vocalists opens Mary Strand’s first album with “Alexa Please,” & continues with a punky-garage band guitar on “Different Kind of World.” It’s pleasant if you’re familiar with his kind of musical endeavor. Mary does it well — but it is retro with a fresh coat of paint.

Mary Strand

A variety of styles crop up in the showcase, the Lesley Gore assertions, the Dixie Cups, the Angels, the Crystals, Reparata & the Del-Rons. The title cut “Golden Girl,” drips with the syrup of this genre & with a potent dose of Shangri-Las’ Mary Weiss’ — tough girl vocalese (“Leader of the Pack”).

This music was quite cool in the early 60s driving female rock spirit. Since it hasn’t been heard in a fresh showcase for decades it’s a welcome sound. Especially for those who can appreciate the nostalgia or the younger listeners who like the polish that’s added to refresh this style. In the 70s The Go-Go’s did a fine job as well.

It is juvenile in structure, but it isn’t being presented as a parody or novelty. Strand’s sincerity is appealing. All the tunes were written by Mary (lead vocals/electric guitar/handclaps) & she captured the mood of the time. It made these kinds of tunes hits on jukeboxes, car radios & 10-transistor radios while waiting for the top 25 surveys to play every Wednesday afternoon.

Produced by Ryan Smith, Mark Wade & Mary the 10-cut pristinely recorded pop jewel Golden Girl (Drops June 23–Independent) will still resonate with ears that appreciate the captivating spirit & polish that accompanies each of these little musical candies.

Certain songs jump out of the speakers — “Quarter To Ten,” “I Don’t Want To Be Your Yesterday” & the Spanish vocals of “Acabe.” This is Mary’s originality in full view. There are some tunes that are just elementary but even they are performed with sparkling arrangements & good musicianship.

The Minneapolis-based Ms. Strand is also a novelist so I’m curious about how descriptive a songwriter she can become if she sets aside the pop song style & focuses on more descriptive lyrics. For now, Mary has an upbeat, interesting 28-minute collection that if nothing else is a fun listen. Escapism at its best.

Highlights – “Alexa Please,” “Different Kind of World,” “Golden Girl,” “I Don’t Want To Be Your Yesterday,” (with Sarah), “The Me I Need To Be,” “Quarter To 10,” “Acabe” & “Stay For Breakfast.”

Musicians – Sarah Morris (vocals), Mark Wade (bass/electric guitar/gong/vocals), Ryan Smith (acoustic & electric guitar/tambourine/mandolin/ukulele/Latin percussion/sitar/piano/keyboard/handclaps/vocals), & Jack Strand (drums).

Photography by Nicole Nelson. CD @ +

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