America’s lovely Thao and Mirah: Mirah Yom Tov Zeitlyn and Thao Nyugen, both solo artists for a long time, met and decided to go on tour together last year. The outcome for two very distinct abilities as singer/songwriters is unpredictably black or white: either they’ll clash or not. And fortunately, Thao and Mirah have brought us something unexpected and refreshing on the indie-folk front. I remember watching a contemporary piece on “So You Think You Can Dance” several seasons ago, and fell in love with a song called “The Garden” by Mirah. Organic and soft, with high falsettos and an incredible vocal range, Mirah has released 5 earthy albums in the last decade. Thao on the other hand, is the wild one – high energy rocking on her acoustic guitar on stage when she performs with The Get Down Stay Down. A bit rough around the edges, Thao balances Mirah on their self-titled album.
This is a very creative album, lots of influence from their co producer from The Tune Yards who have lo-fi experimental sounds. The opening track Eleven is very audience involving in a typical underground stage setting, there’s clapping, crowd movement– and under synth and drumsticks, Thao and Mirah can be heard singing their separate lines (styles immediately comparable) and then coming together in a very layered harmony. Folks is a track that breathes country-waltz, and there are tracks in which one singer clearly leads the other. Mirah’s range takes over in Spaced Out Orbit with her melancholy tone, and in Little Cup behind background beatbox acapella, whereas Thao’s raw playing, singing and writing comes out with husky lines like “Put your hands down your pants”, in Teeth, and Squareneck with her rusty guitar slides. How Dare You is a track where the two artists play back and forth.
Hallelujah is a huge collaborative accomplishment – my favourite track on the album. The last time I heard “Hallelujah” sung so beautifully was Rufus Wainwright’s piece. Reverant vocals, wine glasses and shakers add to gorgeous lyrics, like a prayer to a higher power from hard working souls.
If there’s anything to critisize its sometimes the R&B vibe you get that doesn’t go well with the overall album, but I guess thats the point – this is a different kind of indie-folk album. Don’t expect an album like brother-sister duo Angus and Julia Stone where we have consistency and similarities throughout. This is a serious accomplishment for these ladies, inconsistencies on the album add to the overall diversity and I can’t wait to hear more from them.