WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 28, 2009|
Mirah oh Mirah, where have you been? It seems like forever since we have had new music from the Portland singer songwriter, but the good news is she has finally returned with a new album to grace our ears and touch our hearts. This is Mirah's first full length album since her excellent 2004 release, C'mon Miracle. The new album is entitled (a)spera, which is Latin for 'rough', and upon listening to the first track it becomes apparent that she hasn't missed a beat. Mirah has teamed up with Phil Elverum (The Microphones) along with Tucker Martine (Sufjan Stevens, The Decemberists) and Adam Selzer (M. Ward) on this album, which yields impressive results. (a)spera is a musical journey. A journey through many different melodies and emotions in which no two songs sound alike and we are treated to many sounds that would not normally be associated with Mirah's music. Judging by the album's cover art, which displays Mirah in what appears to be some sort of futuristic Ice Planet, with an octopus like creature on her shoulder, and a pyramid resting in her hand, she is ready for the journey.
This is by far Mirah's most ambitious project to date. The album opens with "Generosity", in which Mirah sings along with an impressive string section. No longer is Mirah alone with her guitar as she was in her 2000 release, You Think It's Like This But Really It's Like This. Instead she is surrounded by a myriad of different instruments that range from guitar to mandinka kora, which is a 21 stringed West African instrument that can be heard on the song "Shells". Strings, horns, bongos and hurdy gurdy are just some of the many instruments that are heard throughout the album. In "The Forest" Mirah turns into story teller, her witty lyrics twisting their way through this electric guitar and horn heavy piece. Country of the Future is a jazzy bass driven song about lovers torn apart, but what gives this song its spark is the marching band style percussions throughout. Arguably the best song on the album is "The River", an emotion driven ballad, which is also the longest song on the album at 7 minutes and 49 seconds. Every song on the album brings with it its own flavor and musical style making this album as diverse as it is.
(a)spera is everything you would expect from Mirah but it appears that her music has reached another level of greatness. The years that have elapsed between her last two releases haven't affected her songwriting ability in the slightest, instead they have nurtured that ability, culminating in what we are hearing today in what is one of the best albums of the new year. - Greg Lozoff