by Mia Doi Todd


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Following the potentially career-ending botch of her sole major-label album The Golden State, on which solo acoustic songs from her earlier indie albums were drenched with producer Mitchell Froom's inappropriate keyboards and a listless, un-complementary backing band, Mia Doi Todd retreated to indiedom. Signing with the electronica-oriented label Plug Research suggests that Todd recognized that The Golden State's flaws were in its execution, not its concept, and this album's remix version, 2006's La Ninja: Amor and Other Dreams of Manzanita, turned out to be a delight. Todd later applied those lessons to 2008's Gea, a partially electronic full-band record that better complemented Todd's vocals, piano, and acoustic guitar with fuller-sounding arrangements. In this context, Manzanita itself sounds like a transition: overall, the focus is back on Todd's own voice, guitar and keyboards, but "The Way," a collaboration with heavy psych stalwarts Dead Meadow, starts the album with a prominent drum-and-bass groove overlaid with psychedelic electric guitar drones. (There's even a backwards guitar solo!) As that encouraging opener shows, this time out, the arrangements are more thoroughly integrated with the songs: "What If We Do," with its shimmering lap steel solo, and the '70s-style orchestrated soft rock (complete with a seemingly deliberately Burt Bacharach-like muted trumpet part) of album high point "The Last Night of Winter" are among the best songs of Todd's lengthy and prolific career. (The latter song also shows off Todd's sometimes startling vocal resemblance to Joni Mitchell: her conservatory-trained voice is lower and smokier than Mitchell's piercing soprano, but Todd's jazzy phrasing sounds directly influenced by her precursor.) The full-band tracks are interspersed with solo piano or guitar songs like the haunting "Muscle, Bone and Blood" and the beautiful, homely romanticism of "I Gave You My Home" that recall Todd's early, completely solo recordings. The ease with which Manzanita balances the solo and band recordings only serves to underscore the heavy-handed qualities that weakened The Golden State.

Product Details

Release Date: 02/08/2005
Label: Plug Research
UPC: 0612651006128
catalogNumber: 61
Rank: 299934

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Mia Doi Todd   Primary Artist,Acoustic Guitar,Piano,Vocals,Hand Clapping,Classical Guitar
Rob Campanella   Dulcimer,Mandolin,Piano,Electric Guitar
Neal Casal   Lap Steel Guitar
Hunter Crowley   Drums
Ric Menck   Percussion,Drums
Eddie Ruscha   Bass
Jeff Cairns   Electric Guitar
Brent Rademaker   Bass,Piano,Electric Guitar,Hand Clapping
Seth "Slim" Zwerling   Trumpet
Brandon Wells   Percussion
Jason Mason   Electric Guitar
Ben Knight   Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar
Chris Gunst   Electric Guitar
Nelson Bragg   Percussion,Bongos
Steve Kille   Bass
Julie Carpenter   Violin,Cello
Liam Philpot   Saxophone
Lindsay Glover   Drums
Danny Preston   Organ,Piano
Farmer Dave Scher   Lap Steel Guitar
Jason Simon   Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar
Ben Knight   Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar

Technical Credits

Rob Campanella   Producer,Engineer,Audio Production
Brent Rademaker   Producer,Audio Production
Mia Doi Todd   Composer,Producer,Engineer,Audio Production

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