Mirah – Changing Light (Album Review)

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mirahalbumFive albums and over a decade into her career, singer-songwriter Mirah is getting back to her roots, literally. Her new record Changing Light covers a lot of earthly ground, from animals to nature and seasons. Hailed as a breakup album, Light deals with being in transition on deep levels, confronting mortality in fascinating ways.

The visceral storytelling evident on all of these tracks is especially lucid on the graphic and almost disturbing “Goat Shepherd”, and Mirah practically becomes one with her earthly natural surroundings on “I am the Garden”. Her voice is as ethereal and rich as ever, so much so that she still makes her impressive range seem easy after all this time. Her vocals are gauzy, but never thin, and this time around she sounds a bit world-wearier. But it works for her, adding a smoky sultriness, and subtle imperfections that make each song rawer because of it.

These songs are brimming with emotions, and they tell a narrative of a love found, lost, perhaps found again and then, finally, gone. The heartbreaking “Gold Rush” is soaring, with an enchanting layer of romantic strings. The lyrics are physical and full of pain, with forceful imagery of dragging, holding on, pulling and running away. You can feel her exhaustion, and likely, if you’ve ever been in love, you can relate to her, too. “There’s nothing ever saving us/from that we’re gonna die”, she sings. And then the world ends, and the song reaches a dramatic peak.

Songs like the infectious “24th St” and “Turned the Heat Off” are more pop heavy than the rest of the album, but their melodies are so solid they’ll definitely be in heavy rotation for a long time to come.
“No Direction Home” may be the darkest moment of Changing Light. The ominous opening tune is so full of dread that we’re knocked off our feet when Mirah’s gorgeous and effortless voice shows up. A song about memories and longing that’s visual and atmospheric, almost like a bad dream, “No Direction Home” is a reminder of the depths to which we can sink when we’re lost and hurt. The angelic harmonies that come with “LC” are, thankfully, like waking from the dream, groggy, but with a weight lifted.

“Fleetfoot Ghost” is classic Mirah, simple, bare and so pretty. It’s an incredibly sad love song about not being able to recapture a love lost. And again, she makes observations pertaining to nature throughout—flowers, winds, nests, aging and seasons. “We were consumed by our tragedy,” she sings, and you wonder how you never thought this phrase, as it describes the end of a love so well. This is a shining point on the record, and even though it doesn’t feature the same lush instrumentals as the other songs, it pierces you and leaves its mark.

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