Mirah (a)spera

Mirah (a)spera
With its elusive mixture of traditional and experimental song forms, this fourth album from the Portland, OR-based singer-songwriter is her most innovative thus far. Drastic shifts from lush strings to moody jazz passages underscore the menacing themes that dominate the songs. Throughout it all, Mirah's hushed, lilting vocals never waver and their intimacy is (a)spera's unifying force. Even by the second track, "The World Is Falling Apart," her ease with taking melodies in completely unexpected directions becomes almost overwhelming. Because of this, it's hard to describe Mirah as a folk artist, even though there is a strong sense of tradition in the symbolism she utilizes as the foundation for otherwise impenetrable songs "The Forest" and "The River." By "Bones & Skin," the dream-like qualities of (a)spera have fully taken hold, leaving the impression that some kind of meaningful experience is taking place, but whether it's good or bad is unclear. Then again, sometimes just leaving a lasting impression is enough, and at the very least (a)spera accomplishes that. (K)