Lush, sonic waves are a departure from the four-track loving woman who previously sang about an anonymous character—“Person Person”—and this is where we must weigh in on what I’ll call the Jefferson debate. Perhaps you’re old enough to have been a Jefferson Airplane fan back when Grace Slick’s voice hadn’t been co-opted by '80s synth. Perhaps you don’t think it was fair for the band to switch directions and keep the Jefferson moniker when Starship was born. If you stick with a band long enough, you’ll either grow alongside them, appreciating their subtle changes. Alternately, you’ll curse your longtime favorite for selling out, or not staying the known course.
This is an extreme example, for Ms. Zeitlyn is not Ms. Slick, nor has she become a psych rocker writing songs about how cities were built. But both women are known in their respective communities for their striking vocals and full-bodied work. (a)spera, while absolutely beautiful, is not 2000’s You Think It's Like This but Really It's Like This. To expect such would be unfair.
Recession-appropriate “Generosity” finds Mirah debating whether to give or take. In fact, much of the album could be viewed in light of our current global financial situation—songs like “The World is Falling” and “Country of the Future” among the potentially ominously-titled tracks—but then, are album reviews always supposed to be so contextual? Maybe the Mirah conglomerate is always tossing around ideas about pre-apocalyptic times, regret, and scarcity. Maybe as you age, your worldview simply becomes more jaded.
The album is a hopeful melancholy with a bright spots. “Gone Are The Days” features a horn section that would make any airport lounge jazz-fusion band jealous. “Bones and Skin,” while somber, encourages you to approach your own demons, to not forget who you are. “While We Have The Sun” encourages outdoor walks because, “You never know when temperamental weather’s gonna come.” The song also offers some hope to overachievers, promising (or reminding), “It’s not up to you to make the flowers wilt or bloom.”
It’s easy to forget how long twelve years can be. Some of us live several lifetimes in that span. It isn’t so strange that in some ways, Mirah has journeyed so far from her roots. While I have no qualms with her new (a)spirations, my hope is that she’ll soon circle back.