There is an irresistible touch of mystery surrounding Bulgarian born singer songwriter Geri X. Since making St. Petersburg, Florida her home in 2005 she has intrigued, and delighted her many admirers, leaving them spellbound by the sheer quality of her song writing and intimacy of her live performances.
Her album Anthems Of A Mended Heart is the culmination of nights she spent nervously turning up for ‘open-mic’ nights. This is turn led to appearances in coffee houses and restaurants, and finally, music venues. All the time the ‘X word’ was spreading rapidly. The mysterious singer’s hard work was finally paying off.
Yet, despite all of this, she still remains something of an enigma. Online interviews that I have read seem to raise more questions than answers. However, one play of Anthems Of A Mended Heart reveals far more about her than any of these interviews would seem able to. Like all good songwriters she lets her music tell the stories.
The remarkable thing is that when she moved to Florida in 2005 she had very little English at all and even wrote some of her early songs from that period in Bulgarian. This made her first six months of being a pupil at high school in Tampa extremely difficult.
As a child in Bulgaria she had studied both the guitar and piano. One way she found to express herself once she had arrived in Florida was through her songs. Within six months she had learned the language and began putting those songs into English.
From there she released several homemade CD’s before her first ‘official’ release Can’t Make You Happy arrived. Suddenly she was no longer a well kept local secret and her live performances began to set her apart from the rest.
Geri’s immaculate guitar style shines through from the eleven songs on Anthems Of A Mended Heart. However, it is her voice that totally captivates the listener. She is able to inject genuine honesty and emotion into her songs, ranging from joy to pain, pleasure to heartbreak, and fun to frustration.
Somehow she is able to take you musically by the hand and lead you through each separate emotion leaving you feeling that you already know her. Her music connects and is easily accessible. Despite being her own harshest critic, her songs link strongly together with a line of consistency that underpins the whole album.
From the vibrant opening of the radio friendly “Kiss On Both Eyelids,” Geri instantly wins you over with a combination of vulnerability and confidence in equal measures. There are contradictions aplenty and her voice is a winning combination of both deceptive strength and obvious subtlety.
Before you realize it, she has taken you headlong into the breezily fresh track “Monument.” Just as you fear that it may prove hard to maintain this fresh start, she totally disarms you with “When I Die.” This powerful song is an early contender for one of the album’s stand out tracks.
Anthems Of A Mended Heart, in fact, contains both live and studio recordings. “When I Die” is one of the live recordings taken from a session for WMSE radio (71.7 FM) and illustrates exactly why people come back night after night to see her play.
The live set continues with a nicely stripped down “You’re A Pearl.” The simple, near Baltic rhythm, of “3000 Lines Of Defense” allows the focus to fall upon that wonderfully warm voice and thought provoking lyrics.
Further live versions of “Fever”, “Devil” and the lovely “Stubborn Man” are also included. These highly effective songs will already be very familiar to her many followers around the Tampa Bay area.
“Mom Song” sees Geri paying musically memorable homage to her mother, who after moving around Europe, now lives near Geri in Florida. Listening to the song, it is clear that this lady helped provide some of the inspiration that has resulted in Geri being able to express herself through songs of this depth. ‘You’re my rock’ she sings with typically heart warming conviction.
“Jack’s Song” and “Most Days” bring the album to a highly satisfying close. On her Myspace page Geri says her musical goal was quite simple. She wanted to "heal through her songs." With songs that radiate such a compelling warmth while exploring the whole range of ups and downs that we collectively label life, she is well on the way to achieving her aim.
Keep the album playing for another version of the wonderful “When I Die.” Just listen to those lyrics. Anyone who can write a song this good deserves far wider recognition.