Release Date: May 13, 2014
Record label: K Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Lo-Fi, Alternative Singer/Songwriter
Mirah has come a long way in terms of refinement as her songwriting muse grew from the dog-eared D.I.Y. indie folk of her early days into subdued masterpieces like 2004's C'mon Miracle and even flirtations with classical instrumentation on 2007's collaborative Share This Place. Coming from a place where her bright voice and neatly organized songs could perfectly articulate messy teenage feelings as well as the existential pondering of early adulthood, it's hard not to feel Mirah's progression as markedly more mature with each new offering.
In her nearly 20-year career, Mirah's latest album was one of the toughest to write. In the five years since her previous release, she broke up with her long-time girlfriend and uprooted from long-time home Portland for New York. This period of transition is reflected on Changing Light, on which Mirah experiments with new sounds and effects, partially thanks to tUnE-yArDs co-producer Eli Crews.
Mirah launched her career at the end of the 1990s in Olympia, Washington, and while she no longer lives there, the city's twin legacies of riot grrl and twee pop still faintly cling to her sound. Her downy voice is equally appealing whether set in growly rock music or glitteringly ornate folk, the poles that her new album Changing Light often switches between. But more than Bikini Kill or Beat Happening, she recalls a certain Pacific Northwest band that she came up alongside.
It’s become commonplace to refer to any sort of orchestrally arranged music as cinematic, but there’s a moment on “Gold Rush,” from Mirah’s fifth, long-gestating album, that’s as formidable a dramatic cue than any in recent film memory. Mirah spends four minutes wrestling with the ghost of an expiring relationship over rueful acoustic guitar and sporadic violin sweeps, wondering aloud “Is this the ending of the world?” It’s all a buildup to a climactic entrance of full orchestral arrangement, where the song explodes from intimate to expansive. With a voice so capable of effecting pathos as the veteran K Records artist’s, the canvas on which it colors is almost beside the point, but while the tone remains largely lachrymose here, there’s extraordinary variety in its musical accompaniment.