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Albums Of The Week: Laurie Styvers | Gemini Girl: The Complete Hush Recordings

A ’70s singer-songwriter who fell through the cracks gets a moment in the spotlight.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Laurie Styvers may be among the lesser-known names within the milieu of 1970s cult singer-songwriters, but anyone who experiences the bewitching innocence on display upon her collectible albums Spilt Milk (1971) and The Colorado Kid (1973) will surely fall in love with this enigmatic figure, whose records spill over with the baroque flavors of late 1960s and early 1970s British pop.

Born in Texas, Styvers was a student at the American School in late 1960s London when she joined the legendary folk-pop outfit Justine, guesting on their eponymous LP before returning to the U.S. to attend college in Colorado in 1970. Within months however, she was back in the U.K. to embark upon a solo career, signing with Shel Talmy and Hugh Murphy’s Hush Productions entity, based upon Laurie’s own highly personal yet evocative songwriting.

Produced by Murphy and arranged by Tom Parker and David Whitaker, with the cream of U.K. session personnel as accompaniment, recording sessions over the next two years revealed Styvers to be a gifted songsmith with a humble and captivating vocal presence, redolent of Carole King, Karen Carpenter or Judee Sill. The sumptuous musical backgrounds only serve to heighten the attractive qualities of this young ingenue, and her debut single Beat The Reaper received encouraging airplay on BBC Radio 1.

Styvers commuted between Colorado and London while making her records, but the relative commercial failure of both albums and a disastrous engagement at L.A.’s Troubadour saw her enthusiasm dampen for a record career and hastened an exit from the music scene. Her later years saw her caring for animals, and Laurie died in 1998, a cult figure that had faded into obscurity, her seraphic face and voice somehow frozen in time.

Gemini Girl: The Complete Hush Recordings is the exhaustive document of Styvers’ career that her music has so long demanded. Drawn from original tapes and session reels, the remastered audio sparkles, and the release boasts a full album’s worth of unreleased material, including demos, alternate versions and some superb unheard songs. The 48-page booklet comes with thorough notes by compilation producer Alec Palao that delve deep into the legend of Styvers, based upon the recollections of those who knew or worked with her, and extensively illustrated with photos and memorabilia. The set is the last word on the intangible magic of this fascinating and mysterious artist.”