CD Review: Mirah

(A)spera (K)

Even as far back as 2000's You Think It's Like This But It's Really Like This, singer-songwriter Mirah Yom Tov Zeitlyn seemed wise and poised beyond her years, a cool-customer eternal roaming among us mortals in the form of a very young, very particular woman. Five years have passed since C'mon, Miracle; during that in-the-wilderness half-decade, Mirah issued a two-disc remix collection, a greatest-hits comp and a collaborative record with instrumental outfit Spectratone International.

With (A)spera, this sultry siren — whose voice is as smooth and soothing as a Mississippi River stone — finally takes on a solo project that's as under control and composed as she is. This might be a matter of maturity on the part of Mirah and longtime producer Phil Elverum, who's behind the boards for three songs here; their earlier efforts together (especially 2001's Advisory Committee) tended to be as wildly schizophrenic as they were compelling. (A)spera, on the other hand, somehow manages to hopscotch genres without rocking the boat at all. The country-and-western lilt of "Education," the Sergio Mendes-lite appeal of "Country of the Future" and the meandering folk of "The River" all co-exist comfortably together under one impeccably stitched umbrella.

Ray Cummings

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