If Amelia Meath had an Irish sister it might sound something like Anna Mieke. The rich instrumentation and literary lyrics are something like if Mountain Man grew up in the jungle instead. They both know something about “Theater,” (the title of Mieke’s latest album), and its ability to shine a light on the self in others selves, art as a reflection and catalyst to life: “Room of mirrors in the land you live / lose me / Theater.” The album is a look at memory, imagination, dreams, particularly through the lens of her adventurous childhood in The Pyrenees, Gibraltar, New Zealand, and Bulgaria.
“Vague memories, in the narrow streets of Lausanne / We ran through red to the park and we swam / Train tracks screaming in the dead of night / Hard city light tends to swallow you whole,” Mieke starts on the opening track, Twin. The memories feel vivid and concrete and specific, however, in the way that a movie director picks images that are at once someone else’s vision and a portal to your own world. “I’m just creating a sound world to escape to, but from moments in time,” Mieke says. “I hope it reminds someone else of their own experience… memories of youth infused with an intense warmth, like that childhood sensation of summer.”
Her trip down memory yields interesting observations about growth and time. “The ritual, mistakes we make, / Mirrored in the things we say / eaten by the very words we sow / salute the magpie, shoot the crow,” she sings in the loping song “Mannequin,” about “watching” as a child, particularly the vivid imagination that the mannequins she has seen has come alive. There are no parents to be seen on this album about childhood, it seems. It is just childhood as remembered through the eyes of a fanciful child.
“Oh observer tell me, where your mind lies… / Oh observer tell me, are you satisfied?” Looking back at childhood through the eyes of an adult reminds you of the spiritual nature of life, including, on this album, limitation and loss. But overall, it’s a colorful and life-affirming album, both sonically and lyrically. It seems like a satisfying time for Mieke, despite the confusion she might have felt at the variegated feast that life has to offer.
“Paint you for the novelty / Frozen in a frame / Something to remember you by / Keep you just the same,” she sings on the album closer. Her songs, as painterly as they are, are able to transcend that medium because of the power of words and sound. It’s a rich pageant of a record, matched in vocal storytelling by the beauty of psychedelic funk musical composition.
Order Theatre by Anna Mieke HERE
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