Changing Light

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Mirah has come a long way in terms of refinement as her songwriting muse grew from the dog-eared D.I.Y. indie folk of her early days into subdued masterpieces like 2004's C'mon Miracle and even flirtations with classical instrumentation on 2007's collaborative Share This Place. Coming from a place where her bright voice and neatly organized songs could perfectly articulate messy teenage feelings as well as the existential pondering of early adulthood, it's hard not to feel Mirah's progression as markedly more mature with each new offering. Fifth album Changing Light comes five years after her last proper solo album, (A)spera, and also follows a particularly harrowing breakup. The passing of time and the process of separation that starts with sadness and transforms into seething anger can be heard all over Changing Light. This isn't the scorned self-pity of a teenage heartbreak but the betrayal, upheaval of lives, and exhaustion that happens when adults with intertwined lives fall out of love. The album is characterized by stretches of overdriven drums, understated horn and synth parts, and most of all Mirah's vocals gliding over patches of resentment and resolution. The booming beat and billowing chorus of "Turned the Heat Off" calls to mind the same catchiness as some of Jessie Ware's best singles before switching gears into the reserved but wordy acoustic tones of "Gold Rush." "Gold Rush" is one of several songs on Changing Light recalling the intricate wordplay and yearning of Joanna Newsom in her most involved compositions on the breakup-inferring album Have One on Me. The album is full of devastated sentiments and broken pieces in the process of being picked up, but the arrangements keep it from feeling hollow. All the sadness is tempered with Mirah's one-of-a-kind sense of melody as well as unexpected echoes of Leonard Cohen on the appropriately named "LC" and Marc Bolan's swaggering pop on "Radiomind." Mirah is joined by a massive crew of friends and neighbors on the album, with guest drumming from Deerhoof's Greg Saunier, production help from tUnE-yArDs' Eli Crews, guitar on some tracks by Mary Timony, and other contributions from over a dozen more guest musicians. The result is an album of brilliantly charged and catchy songcraft. Even coming out of crushing pain, Changing Light is an impeccable statement of love and regret.

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