(2018) Understanding

Mirah

... read moreIf any artist is qualified to address the ways the personal and the political collide in the late 2010s, it's Mirah. While her insight on the tricky and painful parts of relationships is well known -- and expressed particularly well on 2014's cathartic Changing Light -- she's also examined social...

38′:33″ 10 Songs

1
Counting
Mirah
2:52
2
Information
Mirah
3:51
3
Lake/Ocean
Mirah
2:44
4
Lighthouse
Mirah
5:10
5
Blinded By The Pretty Light
Mirah
3:42
6
Ordinary Day
Mirah
4:11
7
Hot Hot
Mirah
4:12
8
Love Jetty
Mirah
3:26
9
Sundial
Mirah
2:37
10
Energy
Mirah
5:48
Released 07 September 2018, 2018 K

Review

If any artist is qualified to address the ways the personal and the political collide in the late 2010s, it's Mirah. While her insight on the tricky and painful parts of relationships is well known -- and expressed particularly well on 2014's cathartic Changing Light -- she's also examined social issues in her music when it was far from fashionable to do so. In 2004 alone, she called out Israel's hawkish policies on C'mon Miracle and recorded an album of protest songs, To All We Stretch the Open Arm. On Understanding, she unites these sides of her music with urgency and empathy. Even when her lyrics name society's ills, as on "Counting" ("We love to death our money/We love to death our gods"), her voice is still gentle. This mix of toughness and tenderness is especially potent on "Information," a heartfelt reminder not to give up or grow numb to the plight of others when bad news feels overwhelming. Of course, it's hard to fight the good fight without sustaining the spirit, and Mirah spends equal time with the things that make life worth living on Understanding. Glowing keyboards and guitars add to the feeling that love is a beacon and shelter on "Lighthouse," one of the album's low-key anthems. On the sunny, shambling "Ordinary Day," Mirah finds joy in the mundane before closing the song with a sweetly subversive call to arms: "Don't stop falling in love." These moments recall the spontaneous magic of her K Records days, and the rickety drum machines and synths that give Understanding a touch of whimsy echo You Think It's Like This But It's Really Like This and Advisory Committee without rehashing what she's done previously. If anything, this is one of Mirah's most musically wide-ranging albums, spanning the evocative electronics and cosmic harmonies of "Lake Ocean," the hip-hop-tinged standout "Hot Hot," and the warm-hearted finale, "Energy," which builds from simple strumming to strings and brass like an ever-widening embrace. On every song, Mirah expresses the need to nurture one's self and make a difference in the world as eloquently as she balances the album's vulnerable lyrics and adventurous sounds. Understanding is music for not just surviving, but thriving, when things get difficult. ~ Heather Phares