Opposite Goddesses: Mister Baby’s GREAT BIG FIRE-SHOW
by Lee Durkee, Author: "Rides of the Midway"
“Megan’s exasperating! She really wants to break into the charts, to win Grammys and diva stuff like that, and then—this drives me crazy!—then she turns around and puts the word fuck into every song she writes and acts like she can’t figure out why she doesn’t get airplay. It’s absolutely maddening. She doesn’t like to be compared to anybody—right?—she hates that!—but that’s what people want—they want to pick up a CD and know what kind of music it is and who it sounds like. Sometimes I want to kill her. She’s just so . . . like she hates it when she gets compared to other women. But she’s beautiful! So what is her problem, right? She’s insane, that’s her problem. I love her, but—oh, and by the way I would never write a review of her album. Anything you write she’ll hate. You’re doomed. Really. Trust me. She won’t like it. I promise you whatever you write she’ll hate. You’re fucked.”
“Can I quote you on that?” I ask Danielle jokingly.
A musician who used to crash on Danielle’s floor once told her about this crazy talented woman named Megan Huddleston (now known as Mister Baby) who had an entire trailer park tattooed on her thigh. Years passed and when the two women met by chance one night, Danielle finally made the connection and said, “Wait a minute—do you have a trailer park on your leg?” Opposite goddesses, they later had a falling out over an arm wrestling championship held at a Days Inn. “Danielle’s exasperated,” Megan explained to me, “because she knows I can kick her ass.” And as to any Grammylust accusations, Megan claims to be only interested in the cross-genre collaborations. Well, that and the sparkly gowns.
Describing Megan’s music, and not her tattoos, ambitions, excellent posture, glitter fixation, or cocksure attitude, is where I’ll get in trouble, I’ve been assured. And I believe it, because I don’t hear music in layers any more than I taste food in ingredients. Half the time I don’t know what instrument I’m enjoying. Lucky You! That was the name of Mister Baby’s first album, the one Megan describes fondly as, “Threatening and foul mouthed.” Her new album, the one your holding now while wondering who the hell it sounds like, is called Great Big Fireshow and is more a full-band production with a broader narrative of obsessions. Only one track is overtly threatening, a fantastically ironic lullaby called “One Eye Open.” Megan’s voice is more narcotic than intimidating, witness the beautiful “Little Lost Alamos,” a serenade in which (as with many of the song) her voice, childlike at times, woozy as Robitussin, strives against its range, more interested in vulnerability than perfection. Her voice seduces even while threatening to kill you in your sleep.
On other tracks, such as “Buffalo” and “Rabbit,” the album is lit up with elliptical, playful rhymes that remind me more of hip hop than, well, whatever hypothetical genre Megan might inhabit (not quite country, folk, rock, or even alt country, but flirting with all of them). While listening to Great Big Fireshow, with its pleas of, “I want to be a star,” on the winsome “Waynesboro,” I was once again left perplexed by the arbitrariness of fame. Truth is, there’s no good reason why Megan shouldn’t be world famous for, “The Most Beautiful Song (I Wish I’d Never Heard).” And personally I’d love to see her in a sparkly gown standing statuesque on stage saying something completely inappropriate to the Grammy crowd. And then I’d like to see Kanye try and take away Megan’s microphone . . .