Somebody's Webpage on Twitter Somebody's Webpage on Facebook Somebody's Webpage on Patreon

So Tonight That I Might See by Mazzy Star (1993)

I must admit that I am not a devoted fan of Mazzy Star, but rather more of a casual yet highly appreciative listener of their music. In my view, their approach to songwriting, as it is for many professional musicians, has been somewhat hit-and-miss. Some of the stuff they've put out is really great, and there are other tunes that you might want to skip. But who knows, maybe you'll enjoy some of those songs that I'd rather pass up. To each her own, as they say.

Mazzy Star's only minor hit song, "Fade Into You," certainly deserved to be a minor hit, and has proved to be a lasting alt-pop standard. Singer Hope Sandoval delivers a haunting, evocative performance to raise the hair on your arms, perfectly complimented by David Roback's minimal, dreamy acoustic guitar. That one unforgettable song is enough to cement Mazzy Star's position in popular music for the ages, and if you listen to Pandora, it may be the only offering from Mazzy Star that you'll ever hear on their playlist.

So, entranced by "Fade Into You," I decided to have a listen to the release from whence it came, So Tonight That I Might See, the band’s debut, which came out in 1993. I do recall hearing "Fade Into You" on the radio back in the early 1990s, and I remember that I liked it a lot, but back then that wasn't enough to inspire me to head out to the record store and pick up a copy of the album. Only now, as a music critic for Somebody's Webpage, have I finally gotten around to listening to it. Better late than never, as they say.

Initially, my impression of "Fade Into You" was that it might have been a heroin-inspired tune. With her sleepy, halfway-awake vocal delivery, Sandoval sounds almost like she's just given herself an injection. The languid electric slide guitar and lush acoustic guitar only reinforced that mental image. But after seeing photos of an evidently healthy Sandoval, I've realized that her low-energy singing style is probably more influenced by a lack of calories than anything else, since she looks like she must weigh about ninety pounds. Please, someone go buy that woman a double cheeseburger with a side order of large fries. Well, despite being so slender, Sandoval is certainly a far cry from Karen Carpenter, God rest her soul. And she most definitely doesn't seem to be a heroin user.

So Tonight That I Might See is, in my view, very similar to the music that artists such as the Cowboy Junkies were putting out in the early 1990s, that is, stripped-down, minimalist dream-pop music with emphasis on lazy-sounding female vocals, reverb-drenched acoustic guitars, and the occasional way-out-there-on-the-horizon electric slide guitar part. I wouldn't call it psychedelic music as such, although some might choose to classify it that way. Rather, I see it more as a kind of ambient or mood music with an Americana vibe to it, in which the song's overall feel takes precedence over any perceived technical ability on the part of the musicians, kind of like the polar opposite of prog rock. They make it sound effortless, but I'm sure that if you tried to play it or sing it yourself, you'd realize that it's a lot harder than it seems.

Here are my favorite tracks from the album:

"Fade Into You"
Well, I've already told you what I think of this classic tune, which starts off the album. Mazzy Star obviously knew it was their strongest piece, so they gave it the spot as first track, as they should have.

"Mary of Silence"
This song is a bit difficult to interpret, but here goes. I would guess that Sandoval is referring to the Virgin Mary and the Catholic traditions associated with her. Here, the Virgin Mary seems powerless and useless, standing statue-like before the wrongs of the world without reacting or doing anything. With a Hispanic last name like Sandoval, I suspect that the singer is reflecting here on her deep disillusionment with her Catholic upbringing. Her vocal delivery seems to both imitate and mock the pious seriousness of the nuns who rigidly recite their praise of the mother of Christ.

"Five String Serenade"
This piece, composed originally by Arthur Lee, is performed wonderfully by Sandoval and Roback. It consists only of a single acoustic guitar and unaccompanied vocal. This is most definitely one of those examples when less is more. Ah, what I wouldn't give to hear Sandoval and Roback play that endearing piece in a small, intimate venue. I've read that they are doing shows in San Francisco these days, so if you can get out there, you should check them out, and be sure to ask for this track, assuming that Mazzy Star is open to taking requests, which they very well may not be.

"Blue Light"
I like this song for its impressive simplicity, heaviness and smoothness. It’s not easy to play a song at such a slow speed and make it work so well, but Mazzy Star pulls it off with style. The droning retro organ in the background is a very nice touch, and the clean, arpeggio-style, ringing electric guitar works to perfection with Sandoval’s breathy, pause-filled, and carefully-timed delivery. The cryptic lyrics are interesting also: “There’s a blue light in my best friend’s room. There’s a blue light in his eyes. There’s a blue light, yeah. I want to see it shine.” Will she make an impromptu visit to her best friend’s room? Will they end up being a bit more than best friends during that visit? You can fill in the rest with your imagination, I suppose.

I really love the simple yet compelling acoustic guitar part for this song, which is nicely backed up by a single set of conga drums. As for Sandoval, who sounds wistful and lost here, it’s one of her strongest performances on the album. The track seems to be a meditation on the fleeting nature of our lives.

“Into Dust”
I guess that I should mention this song since it has been used on television and in the movies quite a bit, and charted briefly in the United Kingdom ( It’s a good song in its own right, certainly. Bet you didn’t know that Mazzy Star came up with this one. Well, now you do.

I recommend this album with some caution, because I’m not particularly fond of some of the tracks on it, such as “Wasted,” which to me comes across as somewhat inauthentic and self-indulgent, and the album’s title track, which in my view is just a lot of redundant instrumental noise, and is not particularly helped by Sandoval mumbling a bunch of incoherent poetry on top of it. That being said, however, the several diamonds on this release most definitely outweigh the few duds, so your money would be well-spent on this early-1990s alt-rock classic.

Reviewed by Somebody Else 5/12/12

See more Favorite Albums of the Moment

"Won't you tell me where my country lies?" said the unifaun to his true love's eyes...