Review: Mirah at Somerville Theatre

 At the Somerville Theatre, October 9, 2009
By CARRIE BATTAN  |  October 15, 2009

Photo by Jerome Eno
Mirah at the Somerville Theatre

The mid-March release date of Portland-based singer/songwriter Mirah’s newest solo album, (A)spera, seemed ill fitting. Instead of bearing the good tidings of an imminent spring, the album oozes the moodiness of late fall and foretells the onset of a long, cold (and oh-so-lonely) winter -- a bit like an inordinately chilly Boston October. 

VIEW: Photos of Mirah at the Somerville Theatre

And thus Mirah’s performance at the Somerville Theatre on a rainy Friday night proved a seasonable treat. An initially drowsy seated house perked up as Mirah worked the spectrum of styles she's acquired during her time solo and in her partnerships with people like Phil Elverum (of the Microphones and Mount Eerie). This evolution is palpable on the wildly varied and exquisitely crafted (A)spera, which Mirah released following a five-year respite.

From an orchestral and flourishing overture (“Generosity”) to a sleepy and minimalistic folk ballad (“Education”) to a Congo-drumbeat-driven “Gone Are the Days,” the petite 35-year-old Mirah hid behind her enormous guitar and slowly revealed the musical arsenal she’s built up since she began singing and performing at age 18. She eventually set her oversized instrument aside, inviting openers Norfolk & Western on stage so she could bounce around to her klezmer-influenced “Light the Match.” And by the end of an encore that included her signature “Cold Cold Water,” off 2001's Advisory Committee, the once-sedate audience left the theater energized.

It’s become all but a prerequisite for indie singer/songwriting women who take on solo careers (see: Cat Power, Joanna Newsom, or even Feist) to rely mostly on the purity and consistency of their voices. This has been true of Mirah until very recently, but her latest work exhibits a musical maturation and instrumental diversity that transcends the reputation of a cutesy or kitschy indie chanteuse. The conundrum is that when Mirah puts on a good live show -- as she did Friday night -- her clear, delicate vocals make you wonder if more complex instrumentation and production techniques have somehow done her voice an injustice.

Related: Shop talk, Holding out Hope, Diamond in the rough, More more >
  Topics: Live Reviews , Entertainment, Music, Singer Songwriters,  More more >
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   MAIN ATTRAKIONZ | 808S AND DARK GRAPES II  |  September 07, 2011
    Following a steady stream of low-budget tracks, mixtapes, and videos posted on their Tumblr this year, the Bay-area stoner rap duo of Squadda B and MondreM.A.N. (a/k/a Main Attrakionz) have raised the stakes by offering up something that resembles a traditional release.
  •   LIL B | I'M GAY (I'M HAPPY)  |  July 19, 2011
    Gone are the endless declarations of hoes on his dick in groups of 30 and 100; gone are the claims that he is everyone from Ellen Degeneres to Miley Cyrus.
  •   SHABAZZ PALACES | BLACK UP  |  June 09, 2011
    The musical reincarnation of Ishmael Butler, the elusive Seattle rapper who makes up one-third of the semi-popular '90s jazz-rap act Digable Planets under the name Butterfly, is a lot to unpack.
  •   FRIENDLY FIRES | PALA  |  June 07, 2011
    For a densely layered, expertly produced dance-rock album, this second full-length from British three-piece Friendly Fires is perplexingly bland.
  •   THE WEEKND | HOUSE OF BALLOONS  |  April 27, 2011
    Self-release (2011)

 See all articles by: CARRIE BATTAN