Like To All We Stretch the Open Arm, Mirah's collaboration with the Black Cat Orchestra, Share This Place begins with an interesting concept that becomes something richer than might be expected. This time, Mirah works with Spectratone International, an ensemble formed by former Black Cat Orchestra founder and cellist Lori Goldston and accordionist Kyle Hanson, on a song cycle about the lives of insects. Share This Place is also part of a larger work that incorporates short films by stop-motion animator Britta Johnson, and the entire project was inspired by the writing of 19th century entomologist and poet J. Henri Fabre, as well as Karel Capek's The Insect Play. Paired with Johnson's films and in their own right, Mirah and Spectratone International's songs are intricate and beautifully made, giving a larger scale to the big events in these tiny lives -- birth, death, mating, eating, sacrifice, survival -- while keeping the details that make them fascinating. Musically, Share This Place is exotic yet friendly, nodding to the gypsy tendencies in Mirah's music since You Think It's Like This But Really It's Like This. Monarch butterflies migrate to an elegant tango on "Following the Sun," while "My Lord Who Hums" delves into hypnotic chamber-psych-rock. Mirah and company do a brilliant job with their insect portraits, making their words and music fit each of their subjects. "Song of Psyche"'s lyrics are especially inspired, pairing the myth of Cupid, Psyche, and Venus with the elaborate mating rituals of moths. Share This Place is often quite witty, but its humor is always instructive: the comically doleful "My Prize" is a reminder that the dung beetle's diet might be disgusting to others but is also extremely useful ("who else but I and my brethren would save this world from suffocating under all this waste?"). "Credo Cigalia"'s perky melody and rattling shakers mimic how annoying the cicada's song can be, but its lyrics show how hard the bug works to have its buzzing moment in the late summer sun. While the album's conceptual nature might seem aloof on paper, Share This Place has surprisingly emotional moments, as on "Ecdysis," which follows a caterpillar from pupa to butterfly and features some of Mirah's most impassioned singing, and "Love Song of the Fly," which captures the anguish of a dying fly trapped in flypaper, lured to its end by its unrequited love for a human. Mirah fans expecting another Advisory Committee might be a little disappointed by Share This Place at first, but its charming fusion of science, poetry, and music, and its clever ways of showing that very different types of life can share this place in harmony, should win them over in the end.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares