The dystopia of The Future on Imani Coppola’s eagerly awaited new solo album, The Glass Wall, says it all about the great vision of the uber-talented independent musician: despite a menacing undercurrent, there is beauty all around.
After two years of work, including seven months in the studio with Glass Wall co-producer Josh Valleau, Ms. Coppola has managed in 12 tracks to perfectly encapsulate the juxtaposition of danger and joy inherent in dealing honestly with modern-day life, from its all-consuming technological advances to the crazy-making thrill ride of love. Through a thought-provoking mix of cacophony and melody that runs behind Ms. Coppola’s signature brazen lyrics, there is a forceful epiphany at play that life on earth is amazing, if you’re only willing to step out from in front of your screen and actually live it.
“It seems sometimes like I’m on the inside trying to get out, to touch real life, to breathe real air, and when I can finally get outside I think ‘holy shit! This is amazing!’”
Such is Ms. Coppola’s fresh hopeful perspective that warms us like the flower coming up through the crack in the sidewalk that she sings of in The Future, that cheers us to believe as she belts it out that “there’s always potential for progress.”
Maybe we believe it better coming from Ms. Coppola’s lips, even through the ironically techno-modulated tone of Say Hello, because the 34-year-old Brooklyn-based singer songwriter has navigated the music world like a cat, knowing she has nine lives and always landing on her feet. From her debut album, Chupacabra, produced by Columbia Records in 1997, through to the Black & White Album from Ipecac Recordings in 2007, Ms. Coppola’s genre-defying lay-it-bare lyrics invite listeners to seize life and love in all their complicated grandeur.
The Globe and Mail called Black & White a “brutally honest album that’s fun to hear,” an assessment that carries through as well to Ms. Coppola’s work as part of the pop duo Little Jackie where her laugh-out-loud lyrics set to Adam Pallin’s programmed tracks on albums from The Stoop release in 2008 through to the Made4TV release in 2011 attracted great interest from film and TV studios.
It is apparent in The Glass Wall, as in Ms. Coppola’s many previous albums, that she has had to walk through fire and a fair amount of brimstone in order to tell the tales from which we benefit. Catch-22 for example, outlines a brief passionate whirlwind with a boy that Ms. Coppola offers up wryly “landed me in the psyche ward for a week.” The conundrum, of course, is whether or not one should avoid such relationships altogether, not go down such rocky roads as the heart takes us if we let it. But Ms. Coppola sings otherwise.
“I hesitate to say the kid is best left ignored…” the lyrics go. The psyche ward proved an invaluable experience for the artist, a metaphor for her musical aspirations.
“Everyone is so themselves,” she said. “No one is hiding.”
It is just exactly that kind of “crazy” that Ms. Coppola’s songs compel us to be, to break free of the rules of enslavement where blinking blackberries are our connection, where we avoid the pain of real love.
She sings in Pain Killa of love as “the most effective heala,” and of how “I take my chances when the feelins right but looks wrong” in Alive. It seems as if she’s singing softly under all her lyrics to stop pretending and live as you feel.
And, actually, she is. “Sometimes,” she says, “the only place to go for refuge is music, because it’s all vibrational.”
The solo-created safe haven of Glass Wall will be released on bandcamp July 31st, followed by an iTunes release Nov. 6. In a nod to the necessity of real-time connection, Ms. Coppola has announced plans to put a band together for her next album release. Good-bye virtual world, Imani Coppola is ready to Say Hello live.