Anna Mieke
Theatre


4.0
excellent

Review

by Sunnyvale STAFF
November 15th, 2022 | 8 replies


Release Date: 11/18/2022 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Linger if you will, we are strangers still

The differences between the album covers for Anna Mieke’s first two LPs tell a tale. Her 2019 debut Idle Mind has a gloomy black and white cover which reflects the goods within quite well. While Mieke’s lilting vocals provide some inherent lushness and the arrangements aren’t especially sparse, the music still feels rather lonely and haunted. Meanwhile, the cover of the follow-up, Theatre, while retaining some darkened tints around the edges, is dominated by the golden glow of an arid landscape. This shift is also reflected sonically, as the album moves into ever more bright and vibrant territories.

Mieke is an up-and-coming folk singer-songwriter from Ireland. Reading that particular combination of words probably summons some images to mind, perhaps of romantic troubadours against a backdrop of green hills and gray skies. I won’t argue that Theatre completely rejects these stereotypes, but the album does feel more “worldly” than simply a straightforward product of the well-established folk tradition in the artist’s homeland. In part, this may be due to Mieke’s cosmopolitan background, with the label’s promotional materials reading like a veritable gazetteer, full of references to the well-traveled musician’s experiences in Spain, Bangladesh, and New Zealand, among other places. Beyond that, though, atmospheric music typically summons a particular type of scene to the mind. In the case of this album, that tends to be sunny sea views in subtropical climes, reminiscent of the covers adorning Fleet Foxes’ more recent albums Crack-Up and Shore. It doesn’t hurt either that Theatre is at least vaguely similar in style to some of the more vigorous moments on those records.

The album’s songs are all rather lengthy by the standards of the folk genre, each falling within the four to eight minute range. The centering factor is reliably Mieke’s pristine voice and her guitar-playing, but this baseline is accentuated by a series of other musicians lending their talents with an assortment of other instruments: fiddle, harp, a variety of woodwinds, percussion, and more. The results are airy and rich, providing a summery ambience throughout.

Theatre is undeniably a release which works best as a cohesive piece. Taken on their own merits, every tune is pretty, but they tend to hold the listener at arm's length. There’s an elusive tinge to the songs which demands full commitment to achieve maximum appreciation. Together, though, they form a compelling journey, and there are plenty of moments to appreciate along the way: the gentle swells of “For A Time”, the rich beauty of “Coralline”, with its lengthy instrumental outro, and the final one-two punch, with a rendition of the traditional song “Go Away From My Window” seeing the album at its most straightforward and vocal-centric, while “Red Sun” reverses approach with its spacey and meandering style. As a closer, it perhaps leaves the listener with more questions than answers, but that feels appropriate. After all, this entire record feels slightly hazed-out and blurred, a beautiful noonday dream, to steal a fitting phrase from Ben Howard.

Mieke has undoubtedly struck gold with her sophomore album, notching a significant improvement from her already-respectable debut. One can question the choice of release date, given the warm weather vibes Theatre exudes will be in short supply for the next few months, at least in many northern-hemisphere locales. Maybe that’s the point, though. As the title suggests, this is an album which sparks the imagination and can take the listener to another place, if only in the mind. As such, perhaps this record will become a trusty pal for those dreaming of summer through the cold and snowy days to come.



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user ratings (7)
3.6
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
November 15th 2022


4444 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Lovely album which is out this Friday, Nov 18th.



Folksters of Sputnik should give this one a try.

JesperL
Staff Reviewer
November 16th 2022


4859 Comments


was not expecting her to be irish with such a dutch name haha! sweet review, i'll give this a shot if i remember to do so

Purpl3Spartan
November 16th 2022


6024 Comments


Oooo interesting nice writeup

May check

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
November 16th 2022


4444 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Cheers guys!

MrSirLordGentleman
November 17th 2022


15334 Comments


I dig that artwork

Orb
Contributing Reviewer
November 18th 2022


9146 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Hot damn this is absolutely fantastic. Thank you for this!

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
November 18th 2022


4444 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Cheers! Yeah, it's a beauty.

tombits
November 26th 2022


3578 Comments


four tracks in and i'm totally enamoured. every song has a moment that leaves me double-taking - lots of unexpected timings and polyrhythms.



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