Plumbiferous Media

(a)spera - Mirah

Mar 15th 2009
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(a)spera - MirahMirah
(a)spera
Score: 94








After a five year hia­tus since her last full-length album, C’mon Mir­a­cle, Mirah Yom Tov Zeit­lyn, still the same emi­nent­ly cre­ative singer-song­writer, has released her fourth album, (a)spera. Zeitlyn’s ear­li­er albums were excel­lent in sound and over­all con­cept, and her newest album eas­i­ly match­es up with them - per­haps sur­pass­ing them. Between deep, rich vocals and lyrics and a com­plex and well-con­ceived musi­cal accom­pa­ni­ment, Zeit­lyn has pro­duced an excel­lent new album.

It’s imme­di­ate­ly appar­ent that Zeit­lyn hasn’t lost a bit of the soft, rich qual­i­ty which sets her voice apart, and (a)spera is just as blessed with excel­lent vocals as any of Zeitlyn’s ear­li­er albums. As soon as she begins to sing on (a)spera’s first track “Gen­eros­i­ty,” the degree to which her voice defines and car­ries the music is remark­able. This isn’t, how­ev­er, to say that the music is lack­ing at all - instead, it’s that Zeitlyn’s voice inte­grates extreme­ly well with an excel­lent musi­cal back­ing. With such a vocal back­bone, it’s no sur­prise that (a)spera works so well - and Zeitlyn’s excel­lent lyrics can only help this along even fur­ther.

Zeitlyn’s lyrics are espe­cial­ly notable for the mix­ture of vivid imagery and emo­tion they con­tain. From the demand­ing throngs of “Gen­eros­i­ty” to the admo­ni­tion not to aban­don your “bones and skin” in the song of that title, the lyrics of (a)spera not only sound excel­lent, but con­tain a sort of intense, visu­al mean­ing not present in many albums. Though Zeit­lyn favors that eter­nal top­ic of indie music, love, the extend­ed naval metaphor of “The World Is Falling,” topped off by a “sail of regret” push­es it all ahead. When Zeit­lyn con­tem­plates the pos­si­bil­i­ty that “love might just be an econ­o­my” on “Edu­ca­tion,” it’s clear this album, lyri­cal­ly, goes far beyond the stan­dard laments of love lost.

In addi­tion to the incred­i­ble lyrics, (a)spera is filled with out­stand­ing instru­men­tals. But what makes them out­stand­ing is not their per­fect, melod­ic sim­plic­i­ty - that would sim­ply make them very strong. What forces them above those of most oth­er albums is the instru­ment, effect, and tone choice appar­ent in every sin­gle track. Every­thing is high­ly cal­cu­lat­ed to cre­ate the exact sound that best fits each unique track, from the soft fuzz and hum of the flaw­less “The World Is Falling,” which quite lit­er­al­ly includes some pure sta­t­ic, some­how only bet­ter­ing the track, to the light, pure sounds of “Shells,” and the won­der­ful­ly rus­tic gui­tar in “The Riv­er.”

And speak­ing of intense cal­cu­la­tions, Zeit­lyn won­drous­ly con­tains every group of rep­e­ti­tion in the exact amount of length so as to tease the lis­ten­er, hold­ing on just until one is about to lose inter­est, and then nice­ly tran­si­tion­ing to a fresh sec­tion. And though many sec­tions con­tain sim­i­lar­i­ties (see “Gen­eros­i­ty”), each changes the song just enough so as to keep lis­ten­ers engaged. In fact, the only prob­lem with “Gen­eros­i­ty” is that it changes in this man­ner so many times that change itself just starts to become unde­sir­able. One of the only dis­ap­point­ments in (a)spera is that the sec­ond half, while still musi­cal­ly excel­lent, los­es much of the care­ful (some­how desir­able) qual­i­ty that was main­tained through the ear­li­er tracks.

The over­whelm­ing­ly incred­i­ble, pure, almost, but not quite repet­i­tive, and unadorned sounds of (a)spera, when put in the hands of any aver­age artist would not sur­vive an EP. But Zeit­lyn has man­aged an incred­i­bly diverse album with these qual­i­ties (com­pare “While We Have the Sun” to “Coun­try of the Future,” which can only be described as “real­ly damn cool”), and not only is the album itself great in its diver­si­ty, but each track could eas­i­ly stand with­out the sup­port of the oth­ers. Quite sim­ply, (a)spera is an amaz­ing album.


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