Girlyman, Coming On Strong at Iota
Washington Post, Tuesday, December 16, 2003
On Sunday night, Doris Muramatsu of Girlyman pointed out that her group's "competition" across town was Simon and Garfunkel. Paul and Artie wouldn't have played a room the size of Iota since their Tom and Jerry days. But the the young Brooklyn trio Girlyman has had access to gifts S&G never received.
Muramatsu, Nate Borofsky and Tammy Greenstein have been shaped by such post-MTV elements as genre-benders They Might Be Giants, college gender studies and the proving ground of a turn-of-the-century folk music boom.
They used their inheritance well, opening with a splendid version of Simon's "Born at the Right Time" that recast it as a creation myth for a "Girlyman" -- a creature born to do the unexpected. Though sexual ambiguity resurfaced in the evening's set, particularly in Greenstein's stunning, up-tempo "Young James Dean," Girlyman's primary mission is musical rather than polemic. The group's strength lay in its harmonic, multi-instrumental mastery of buoyant, pop-folk numbers with elusive, poetic lyrics, from a cover of Patty Griffin's "Mary" to Borofsky's own "Viola," which recently won an Independent Music Award.
Sure, Girlyman is unlikely to pack MCI Center anytime soon. But would those "Troubled Waters" guys dare to tackle a funky version of "Rock Me Amadeus"? Not in a New York minute.
- Pamela Murray Winters