Mirel Wagner

Mirel Wagner

by Mirel Wagner
     
 

Beauty is a strange phenomenon; while some things are almost universally beautiful -- natural wonders, classic works of art, baby animals -- the things that push the boundaries of conventional beauty and challenge our perceptions of what is beautiful often leave the strongest impression. Speaking just of music, artists from Billie…  See more details below

Overview

Beauty is a strange phenomenon; while some things are almost universally beautiful -- natural wonders, classic works of art, baby animals -- the things that push the boundaries of conventional beauty and challenge our perceptions of what is beautiful often leave the strongest impression. Speaking just of music, artists from Billie Holiday to Nick Drake to Joy Division found beauty in the depths of the melancholy and morose, and with the introduction of gothic indie folkster Mirel Wagner, this tradition is refreshed for a new generation. In an album that belies her 23 years of age, the Ethiopian-born, Finland-raised artist introduces herself with a sort of grown-up fairy tale narrator persona, spinning stories of love, death, and the devil, laid bare emotionally as well as lyrically and musically. Accompanied only by her guitar and a general sense of dread, Wagner's sound bears a strong kinship with the Delta blues players of the last century, but the influence of her African roots hangs more prominently; where her blues progenitors stretched and bent their chords, Wagner takes a fingerpicking approach that, despite its sparseness, is lyrical and almost hypnotic. Vocally, her delicate texture, measured delivery, and sensual undertones strongly recall Mazzy Star frontwoman Hope Sandoval, but Wagner imbues a stark plaintiveness and worldweariness that complements her compositions' dark beauty. And these compositions are pure poetry as Wagner tells her tales from various perspectives: a man whose physical love for his bride does not end along with her life on "No Death" ("Her hair is long, still smells like mud/She answered to my kiss with a rotten tongue"); a boy who anticipates his drowning death and leaves his epitaph with a friend on "Joe" ("I'm light as a leaf, an angel holding hands with me/No sign of sorrow, no sign of grief); or someone acknowledging their submissive role in a destructive relationship on "To the Bone" ("Your love drags me down like the clothes when you swim"). Lyrically and musically the album is almost consistently one note, except for "Dream" -- a swampy, celestial slow burner that comes closest to making the Delta blues connection, while conversely putting some electronic processing on Wagner's vocals that are reminiscent of Portishead vocalist Beth Gibbons -- but for strangely desirous death ballads, this delivers in spades. A few things are clear with Mirel Wagner's debut: it isn't for everyone; it leaves questions of her versatility as an artist (though at this point in her career, it's not necessarily a priority); but most importantly, it's a singular, uncompromised vision that, in a world where the definition of beauty sometimes seems to be growing more restrictive, will resonate with listeners who prefer to find beauty in unexpected places. ~ Chrysta Cherrie

Product Details

Release Date:
03/27/2012
Label:
Friendly Fire
UPC:
0616892026648
catalogNumber:
25
Rank:
105097

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