Sunday, August 5, 2018

Mia And Jonah: “Spin As One” (2018) CD Review

Things are certainly getting strange out there. There is new evidence of it every two or three minutes, too much, in fact, for any one person to even keep track of. What seems to be happening is that humanity in this country is splitting into two distinct groups, one of which has given into its basest instincts, and as a result has turned ugly and horrid. This group shows no sign of being able to right itself, even when this nightmare finally comes to an end. Fortunately, the other group is the one creating art, and it is to these folks that we turn for comfort and hope and humanity, and also for cheer and beauty. Mia And Jonah, a folk duo based in Los Angeles, deliver all of this on the new release, Spin As One. Mia And Jonah have been performing together for approximately fifteen years, first residing in San Francisco before moving south to L.A. In that time, they’ve released a few CDs. This new one features all original material, with beautiful vocals and gorgeous arrangements designed to connect to something deep within us all, and to connect us to each other. Music that says to us, You are not alone. Music that we need. Joining Mia Mustari and Jonah Blumstein on this release are Seth Ford-Young on bass and backing vocals, Steve DiStanislao on drums, Alan Grubner on violin, and Chris Pandolfi on banjo.

The CD opens with “Our Old Farm,” which immediately establishes a sweet folk sound, with pretty and expressive work on strings. The vocals here have a beautiful, uplifting vibe. Everything is working to offer comfort, to offer a haven from the chaos and ugliness of the world, like welcoming arms. The lyrics seem to express that very idea: “Our old farm, there upon the hill/Ready for a new life, when we choose to heal/When we choose to heal.” This entire country is going to need an extended period of healing once we emerge from this darkness. I only hope it won’t be too late. “Our Old Farm” is followed by “Spin As One,” the CD’s title track. This is a livelier tune, with a rhythm to lift our spirits, maybe get us moving a bit. “When this world turns upside down/Change crumbling the towers/Our hearts are carried by the dove/Soaring high above the flood.” Adding to the positive sound of this track is Chris Pandolfi’s work on banjo. You probably know Chris from his work in The Infamous Stringdusters. Jonah adds some nice work on harmonica.

“Sugarbones” has a sweet, gentle, pretty vibe. This song seems to hold us, swaying slowly, lovingly. “Sugarbones, sugarbones/Oh, I won’t let you feel alone/Walls crumble as you take me inside.” It’s interesting that this song also employs the image of walls crumbling (as “Spin As One” does). When has destruction ever sounded so comforting? And, like “Our Old Farm,” this song’s lyrics mention healing: “I need your touch to heal once more.” Destruction and healing, these things are certainly on the minds of many of us these days, and this music taps into that current. It is change that we crave, that we need. Then “Nightingale” has an undeniable beauty. This music has a gentle optimism that I need these days, that I’m guessing most of us need. “Oh, she’s down from the wind and the rain/But her broken wing she’ll mend/To take herself over the mountains again.”

Their vocals on “Season Of Opening” seem capable of carrying us all into a dream, or perhaps through a dream. This music is emotionally engaging, and at times I just want to let go and drift off within it. “Open the skies above, and it rains down seeds/Open the life we love, in the songs we breathe.” The CD concludes with “Daybreak.” How is that for a hopeful title, eh?  Looks like our luck delivered by a starless sky/I see a cloud surrender to the sun that shines/Our love survives.”

CD Track List
  1. Our Old Farm
  2. Spin As One
  3. Sugarbones
  4. Nightingale
  5. Season Of Opening
  6. Daybreak
Spin As One is scheduled to be released on September 7, 2018.

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