When Mia Doi Todd’s _The Golden State _was released in 2002, I thought her work was oddly impressive. Her strange voice as captivating; if not always soothing or particularly enjoyable, it impressed me and kept me tuned in. Her first (and only) major-label album, it compiled tracks from her previous independent records, and it looked like Todd might Sony/Columbia Records’ new “it” girl.
Time passed. Her contract wasn’t renewed. She contributed to other, better known musicians’ projects while two more solo albums came out to much less critical acclaim. Gea, her latest effort, arrived at my doorstep weeks ago, and sadly, I can barely manage to listen to the entire record despite its short length of ten tracks.
Todd is a unique hybrid of American East Coast woodsy and East Asian influence. Practically unclassifiable, her insanely minimalist music doesn’t make sense to a lot of people. Often only a piano or guitar accompany her haunting voice, and she is also known to remix much of her own work and create new albums from it (which is an odd choice considering much of it isn’t particularly well received these days anyway). I’ve never known anyone who was a rabid Mia Doi Todd follower, and recently, when I played a Gea track for a friend with no information or introduction, he asked if Todd wasn’t a slower, less Celtic Loreena McKennitt. Ouch.
I can’t give Gea my love because it’s boring and painfully repetitive. It also bears too close a resemblance to every other Mia Doi Todd track I’ve heard, and this sadly doesn’t impress me. I wanted to stand confidently behind her latest effort, but Todd’s voice and songwriting skills are much better suited for collaborations than her own solo career. I hope she’ll consider doing more partnered work in the future.