The debut album from Miranda Lee Richards does more than just fill the gap left by the absence of bands like Mazzy Star. The folk-influenced, Gram Parsons-inspired The Herethereafter reinvents the dream pop genre and brings a unique voice to male-dominated neo-psychedelia. Richards first honed her songwriting skills on two releases from the Brian Jonestown Massacre, "(You Better Love Me) Before I Am Gone" on 1997's Give It Back and "Reign On" from their Bringing It All Back Home Again EP (1999). Her own album is a softer, gentler take on the Velvet Underground revival sound. The result is a beautiful and cohesive song-oriented album -- a welcome return to thoughtful melancholy in these days of drone-like bombast. Richards has the voice of an angel, and her sublime folk-psychedelic songs linger like wistful memories. The Herethereafter features contributions from many well-known L.A. musicians, including Jon Brion (producer of Magnolia, Aimee Mann, and Rufus Wainwright), Matt Chamberlin (studio drummer for multiple artists), Patrick Warren (chamberlain on albums by Fiona Apple and Tracy Chapman), and David Campbell (string arrangements for Aerosmith and members of L.A.'s Beachwood Sparks). Richards adds folk and country tints to neo-psychedelic indie rock, with vocals similar to Edie Brickell, Chrissie Hynde, and Karen Peris of the Innocence Mission. "Beginner" opens the album with a declaration of purpose: "If you are never a beginner/How are you going to begin?/If you are wondering how I feel/I am only trying to keep it real." "The Long Goodbye," with its haunting slide guitar, Beatlesque string arrangements, and melodic vocals, is an ethereal masterpiece. "I Know What It's Like" was produced by Jon Brion and is rich with texture from orchestral strings, hints of feedback, and the beeps of a child's toy, creating an otherworldly lullaby. The Herethereafter is a lush, engaging debut, and its hypnotic, bittersweet mood and stunning intimacy signal the arrival of a major new talent.
AllMusic Review by JT Griffith