Anna Mieke is the musical project of Anna-Mieke Bishop, who performs on Greek bouzouki, guitar and piano.
The songwriter and multi-instrumentalist self-released her folk-rooted debut album ‘Idle Mind‘, in 2019
A deliciously bearable lightness of being defines Anna Mieke’s musical works. The strikingly confident collection of ten compositions, are full of blue sky thinking and wide open horizons.
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, bereft of geographical ties.
In some ways, Anna-Mieke 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 as a formidable carrier of that torch.
Indeed, the whole album sounds like a sparse, spaced-out exploration; where the spaces between sounds and Mieke’s vocals play as much part as the notes themselves.
Mieke’s lyrics are poetic and abstract throughout the record. Their minimal nature inviting the listener to decipher their undoubtedly personal nature; while allowing for a particular vagueness. Markedly, enabling you to attach your own interpretation to each song
Accompanying herself on bouzouki and acoustic/electric guitar on most songs, Anna Mieke is also a pianist and a cellist, thus immediately broadening her sonic palette.
Folk influences abound Idle Mind’s soundscapes; Mieke’s cello drones underneath neatly percussive guitars and a layered arrangement of auxiliary instruments.
Shades of Folk
Bishop plays a series of instruments, from bouzouki to cello. Two collaborators bring folk and jazz tones to her music. Each piece coupled with gentle electronics here and there.
A superb album, Idle Mind navigates effortlessly between contemporary shades of folk music (“Warped Window”), spirited folk-rock (“Idle Mind”) and Americana blues-rock (“Arbour”). Adventurous forays into modern classical and jazz-tinged territories appear on songs like Creature and the stunning track, “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. Borrowed from the Greek folk and Rebetiko traditions, Bishop favours the Greek bouzouki, Adopted in the mid-1960s by Irish musicians, the instrument provides a fantastic grounding to her songs.
If anchor points are helpful, then occasional echoes of Stina Nordenstam’s sound seep into Bishop’s vocals. But this artist unequivocally forged her own path. She’s as comfortable in the stark opening chords of ‘Mountain Song’ as she is in the deeply atmospheric, cinematic and reflective ‘If’.
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. Underpinned by Bishop’s strong vocals, her superb arrangements and lyrics deal with the elements, wilderness and wide open spaces, .
Indeed, Idle Mind is not just a stunning debut record. Nor is it just an amazing Irish record; it’s a record that proves Mieke to be one of the most promising artists on the Irish independent sphere. A mature musician and songwriter whose work deserves to be heard far and wide.