Mia Doi Todd - Gea (City Zen Records) Eric Nielsen 2.2.8
On her 7th release, this interesting artist breaks out some ambient beauties. It’s hard to put into words as it defies and doesn’t try to be like so many other records. Cinematic, graceful and gently harmonic, where her training in Japanese traditional theater whispers and lightly touches your back giving you the tingles.
The mood is reminiscent of Mrs. Robinson's era, a gentler and mannered time, that plays within the rules while expanding the consciousness of the proceedings. A mindful, thoughtful collection of river songs, a nature setting on a triptych screen painted with birds, long grasses and flowers. Songs full of natures' rules.
It’s Simon and Garfunkel at times, without the baggage. Remember how good that was when you first heard it? Like being barefoot in the high sierras with your feet in a stream and the blinding hot sun of the extreme elevation willing you to see differently.
Hope, wait, be patient, watch, engage, and act in a responsible manner. All these virtues seem to play out and fluctuate through the voice. Even when the guitar sounds fairly traditional, it’s set into the mix in a way that spotlights the voice... and it is the voice that sets the table for the entire piece.
Gentle string sweeps and vocal melodies line the base of the album to provide what I find is a soulful, spiritual rendition of the times. A view that eschews the everyday and looks back in time to ancestors and spirits for a view forward, Joan Biaz laying in the grass, staring at the clouds. The meaning is found in an honest, emotive expression of the frantic, balanced with an imposed will of form and function.
Sometimes the illusion of the disc threatens to disappear as it threads delicately the fine balance of otherworldly and over-baked. Usually when the listener gets a little lost, the vocals lead you out of the darkness and a certain forgiveness is offered when the border is crossed.
Overall this sensitive song-making draws you in and convinces. See her at the San Diego Women's Club on March 24th. Listen at the myspace page.