mountain, after millions of years, smoothes itself into a flat plane—erasing the dangerous crags and unpredictable shapes in a gradual manner, revealing a more majestic monument of subtle grace. It also becomes loads easier to climb. And so it goes with Mirah Yom Tov Zeitlyn’s collection of albums recorded using merely her first name. You Think It's Like This But Really It's Like This, her first (besides Storageland solo album, reveled in quickly maneuvering in between a variety of guises: sweet, erotic, wistful, lonely and plaintive were all used and discarded with impunity over the course of the sixteen songs. It was her lyrical masterpiece, as most large-scale debut albums are. Advisory Committee, as most second albums do, acted as her chance to spread out with regards to production. Aided by the kitchen sink spaghetti Western Morricone production of Phil Elvrum on “Cold, Cold Water” and throughout the rest of the album, Mirah bowed, for the most part, to the maelstrom around her and allowed the music to do as much of the speaking.
And now, this, the third album. Mirah is still at the vocals. Elvrum is still at the dials. And the only thing that’s different is that it’s now 2004, right? Which means they’ve matured. And for a singer songwriter, especially as one as eclectic and charming as Mirah, this can only mean bad things. The carnival atmosphere of “Cold, Cold Water” is replaced by what ends up, in the context of the album, a shocking switch from a tightly constricted drum machine to an extended acoustic coda on “The Light”. But it’s not just that the production is restrained—when the samba rhythms of “Don’t Die In Me”’s fade-out is the most imaginative moment…—it’s the lyrics as well.
"So, now, Jerusalem, you know that it's not right," isn’t typical of the new Mirah, but it is indicative of the maturation process. On the most political of songs released under her own name, Mirah sings the aforementioned line and a variety of others all of which generally decry War and its associated vagaries. But it’s rather unfair to quote out of context to disparage. Needless to say, they don’t stick as they once did—in fact there are few of the stop-in-your-tracks lines or extended metaphors of previous works.
In between the release of Advisory Committee and C’Mon Miracle, Mirah put out two albums—To All We Stretch the Open Arm (a politically charged set of songs recorded with the Black Cat Orchestra) and Songs from the Black Mountain Music Project (a forced experiment wherein Mirah and Ginger Takahashi went to the mountains for a month and recorded the results). And, taken like this, it’s quite easy to see the situation: gone are the days of a supreme naivete and insularity of You Think It’s Like… and the wide-eyed wonder of Advisory Committee. Replacing it is the self-imposed experimentalism of Songs from… and the resignation of To All We Stretch…. Good luck movin’ up, Mirah. I’m moving out.