Watch the vintage-saturated video for Magana's "Golden Tongue."
There is a lot to unpack in the potency and beauty of Magana’s “Golden Tongue.” So much so that the song may engross listeners to the point of missing the narrative of its music video. But make no mistake, the vintage clips that accompany the song are more than Turner Classic Movie B-roll; the Benjamin Shaw-produced video tells what Jeni Magana calls a classic story: “There lives a quiet girl in a small town with some big dreams. She wants to be a lawyer. She wants to find a man that loves her and respects her career and marry him immediately. She wants to travel the world and see all of the places she's read about. But life has other plans for her. She needs money, so she enrolls in typing class and eventually becomes a secretary in a law office. She studies nights and weekends, but never seems to have time to go to college. Everyone judges her by her looks and not her brains, and most people talk over her so they never hear a thing she says. A young man sweeps her off her feet and convinces her to marry him, but then the romance wears off and she realizes that her life is like an old movie version of her dreams. It's blurry and scratched and the color is faded. But it's never too late to start over, so our heroine begins planning to leave her husband. She's never been anywhere alone and it is a terrifying prospect, but the hint of freedom is enough to pull her out of the safe world and into a world of unknowns."
“Golden Tongue” is a subdued track that begins with a placid guitar line but slowly builds to a quiet intensity. Magana’s voice is a lively rasp that emotes a jaded sense of heartbreak spurred by a lover who talks but does not listen. “You colored my words with your golden tongue / And shifted and blurred what is in my heart,” she sings. Sometimes in love we accept what we are given without questioning it. Magana senses something isn’t quite right. She asks herself why love feels so damn hard. Just the other night, a friend told me that when I found the right person, it would be easy. I’d like to believe that he’s right. Magana sums up the meaning of “Golden Tongue” thusly: “It's about smooth talkers and not letting yourself feel silenced by them. I feel like being a quiet person, in addition to being a female, makes it easy for people to overlook my words and this is a chance for me to carve out a space for myself to speak." Through her song, Magana has the final word — her voice is heard and it’s a wonder how anyone could have ignored it in the first place.
Listen to Magana on bandcamp.
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Alex Wexelman is a professional music writer and procrastinator. His most prized possession is a book he got hand-signed by Patti Smith. Like his tweets here.