Lisa Germano is rivaled only by Tom Waits when it comes to the ability to insert sad, majestic melodies into squirrelly settings. Her songs tend to feel fractured, half-discarded. She sings in sighs; it seems you hear her every breath. In many if not most of her songs, she creates the disconcerting sense that much more is going on than either the words or the music quite reveals.
“And So On” is classic Germano—delicate and peculiar, gorgeous and heart-rending. Beginning with an unadorned piano and voice lament, the background shifts at 0:41 when Germano breaths out the words, “Oh, animals,” and that’s what we get—a barnyard full of chickens and cows and such, suddenly doing their thing in the background. “I just don’t want to know/The places people go,” Germano then sings, a line that seems somehow both to clarify and baffle; and by the way, check out both that chord under the word “places” and the lovely resolution it leads to, briefly. What a short and unusual journey this is. The chorus simply repeats the title phrase, as if its principal section was somehow excised and we are left both musically and lyrically with the afterthought. An acrobatic bass line temporarily wrestles the background spotlight from the animals, but they return in force the next time around. Are the animals the chatter that we try to fill our head with after a loss? Are our inner voices as confused and helpless as the voices of those without language at all? Are our emotions best expressed without words?
So far I’ve only got questions, no answers. But note that “And So On” is a song from a new album, called No Elephants, which is intended to be listened to as a whole, with a beginning and middle and end. The song is third from last. So on the one hand we are missing context but on the other hand, Germano is never all that straightforward—consider that she saw fit to put this song out there on its own, after all—so I’m guessing the entire album will likewise prompt more questions than answers. No Elephants is due out next month on Badman Recordings. MP3 again via Magnet Magazine. Site-related trivia note: Germano’s “It’s Party Time,” in May 2003 (note Web 1.0 format!), was the first song featured on Fingertips. She was also here in 2006.