fb-pixelLong absent from the concert stage, Mistle Thrush’s Valerie Forgione returns with a new identity and sound - The Boston Globe Skip to main content

Long absent from the concert stage, Mistle Thrush’s Valerie Forgione returns with a new identity and sound

Besides writing and singing the songs, Valerie Forgione played most of the instruments on Lovina Falls' “Calculating the Angle of Our Descent."Joan Hathaway

The impetus for Valerie Forgione’s new project, Lovina Falls, was simple: “I missed singing.”

Local music fans also likely missed Forgione’s singing. Her striking alto, which garnered comparisons to Kate Bush and Sandy Denny, was at the heart of Mistle Thrush. The band’s dreamy sound made it a standout of the ‘90s Boston rock scene. But while their music was unique, their story was a common one during that era: A band with a loyal fan base loses its momentum after a record deal goes sour.

Even though Saturday’s live Lovina Falls debut at the Rockwell in Somerville will be Forgione’s first time on stage in nearly a decade, she never stopped making music. After Mistle Thrush stopped performing, she threw herself into writing scores for local theatrical productions, including a feminist version of “Dracula” that was performed at the Umbrella Arts Center in Concord, and the Hovey Players’ production of “Maytag Virgin.” She also contributed music to podcasts and independent films. And then there is her day job as an executive vice president at Newbury Comics, where she’s worked for 30 years.

Before Lovina Falls was a record or a band, it was a name on Forgione’s family tree: “My, I think it was, great-great-great-great-great-grandmother is listed as Lovina Fall. And I thought, ‘Well, that’s a cool name. If I ever do anything, I’m taking that name.’ And then I discovered there’s a Lovina [waterfalls] in Bali.”


The new Lovina Falls album, “Calculating the Angle of Our Descent,” started as a few songs that Forgione brought to producer David Minehan’s studio. “I would do a lot of the tracking at home — you know, when it’s 2 in the morning and you’re doing laundry, I’d write a little melody,” says Forgione, speaking from the spartan Newbury Comics corporate offices in the company’s Brighton warehouse.


The result is a joyfully unclassifiable album that ranges from baroque pop to bracing electronics, both warm and challenging, with Forgione’s gorgeous voice delivering stories about the human condition. Of the album’s title, she says “it’s about the irony, where we could be in an airline that is going down, or we could be falling off a cliff, and we’re trying to figure out what angle we’re going down at.”

“If there’s a theme, it’s that sometimes things aren’t OK, but they’re gonna be OK. There’s a lot of complexity in existence, and you can go into dark places when you don’t need to be there,” she says. “You have to have faith in yourself.”

Besides writing and singing the songs, Forgione played most of the instruments on the tracks as well, although there is a sprinkling of contributions from a crew that included her husband, Brenden Cobb, Mistle Thrush bassist Matt Klain, and violinist Marnie Hall. “My husband made a lot of awesome noise that I then edited and put back together,” Forgione says with a laugh.

But after releasing both the record and a series of videos, Lovina Falls is now becoming an eight-piece live band for its Rockwell show. Joining most of the cast from the record will be Mistle Thrush guitarist Scott Patalano, singer Laura Klain, keyboardist Carrie Ingber, and drummer Justin “Dusty” Rocherolle. (Mistle Thrush drummer Todd Demma was invited but will be touring the United Kingdom as part of the Chameleons.)


“I missed performing, and connecting with people in real time, and making mistakes, which is OK,” says Forgione. After largely making the record by herself, she says performing it with so many musicians “is sort of like I wrote a story, and now we’re taking it and rewriting it with a group of very talented wordsmiths. We’re telling the story in the same way, but now it’s orchestrated.”

While Mistle Thrush played years of gigs in rock clubs (including headlining a famous 2001 night at TT The Bear’s that was opened by the pre-fame Strokes and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club), Lovina Falls is taking a different approach. They’re playing in a small theater, and instead of other bands, the night will include a pair of circus performers: aerial hoopist Chels Errante and contortionist Judith Ngari (who performs as Twisted Elegance). The idea, says Forgione, is to let audience members experience “movement that is happening around you.”

Forgione’s love of circus arts is reflected in the Lovina Falls song “Vaulted.” “The main character is a circus ringleader, and the song is about being enamored by something that you’re falling for. At the beginning there are these sounds that are meant to sound like the hydraulics that lift the circus tent up.”

Live Lovina Falls shows are likely to continue, and Forgione says that while “pride is not a thing I like to admit, I’m proud — or maybe I should say astounded — that I could play every instrument and write every song on a record. I’d never done that before. And it’s nice to build something and look at it, and it’s not falling over.”



At the Rockwell, 255 Elm St., Somerville. Dec. 2 at 10 p.m. $10. therockwell.org

Noah Schaffer can be reached at noahschaffer@yahoo.com.