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New York’s Miriam Waks has been involved in music for most of her life, and consequently her debut album Tales from a Room is closer to a culmination or a fresh chapter than a true beginning. It marks her evolution from an interpreter of the songs of others to a lyricist in her own right, and each song on the album is a mini story—a snapshot which offers a tantalizing glimpse at a much larger narrative. Some are actually based on literature, from “The Room” which is influenced by Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, to “Song for Achilles” which is based on the similarly-titled debut novel by Madeline Miller, The Song of Achilles.
For all of its cerebral elements, however, Tales from a Room is equally a record of Waks’ emotional attachments to the topics, and thus there’s a personal directness to even the most political songs like the anthemic “Revolution.” It’s the deepest level of human connection which interests her, whether she’s singing about drug addiction on “Cold Turkey” or even an ode to artists in the city she calls home with “Back to the Jungle.” Consequently, Waks’ commitment to treating her subjects with authenticity gives the entirety of Tales from a Room a legitimacy rare among debuts.
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