A deliciously bearable lightness of being defines Anna Mieke’s debut album. A strikingly confident collection on 10 songs, it’s full of blue sky thinking and wide open horizons.
Who Is Anna-Mieke?
Anna-Mieke, though Wicklow-born, is a worldly artist. Her wide travels (from eastern Europe to New Zealand) are embedded in the molecules of her music. In effect, She sounds like nobody else and is bereft of geographical ties.
Mieke, in some ways, draws a musical line set by legendary Joni Mitchell’s seminal Blue album. The influences continue through to Mitchell’s jazz-minded explorations on Hejira.
And judging by Idle Mind, Anna Mieke shows potential to be a good carrier of that torch.
Anna-Mieke : Idle Minds
Indeed, the whole album sounds like a sparse, spaced-out exploration. Mieke’s vocals play as much a part as the notes themselves alongside the spaces between sounds. Mieke plays a series of instruments, from bouzouki to cello. Two collaborators bring folk and jazz tones to her music, all coupled with gentle electronics here and there.
Idle Mind is a superb album navigating effortlessly between contemporary shades of folk music (“Warped Window”), spirited folk-rock (“Idle Mind”) and Americana blues-rock (“Arbour”). There are adventurous forays into modern classical and jazz-tinged territories on songs like Creature or the stunning “Parallel”.
None of the original songs on the album bear a “traditional” stamp though. The singer dips into other styles to carve her own path. Her usage of the Greek bouzouki is borrowed from the Greek folk and Rebetiko traditions. Adopted by Irish accompanying musicians since the mid-1960s, the instrument provides a fantastic grounding to her songs.
If anchor points are helpful, then occasional echoes of Stina Nordenstam sound in the untrammelled style of Mieke’s singing. But this is an artist who’s unequivocally following her own path. She is as comfortable in the stark opening chords of ‘Mountain’ song as in the deeply atmospheric, cinematic and reflective ‘If’.
The 10 songs on Idle Mind emerged organically as life experiences gathered at home and abroad.
As a result, the free-flowing compositions slowly matured into a remarkable début. Superb arrangements and lyrics dealing with the elements, wilderness and wide open spaces, underpinned by strong vocals.
Idle Mind is a slow burner (in the very best sense) that promises many fresh revelations with each return visit. A deliriously renewable energy source.