It´s not often I stumble upon a female solo artist that sounds like – and write songs – that brings to mind gravel voiced artist like Leonard Cohen, Johnny Cash and Nick Cave – and sirens like Hope Sandoval of Mazzy Star, PJ Harvey and Liz Phair. This sextet’s musical expression is recreated in the form of a woman of in er mid-twenties of Ethiopian origin but now residing in Finland.
The name Mirel Wagner sounds less Ethiopian and absolutely not like a name from Finland. It´s a name that seems to have a lot of dark history – and her stories is as dark as someone at least twice her age.
After name dropping Cash, Cohen, Cave, Sandoval, Harvey and Phair who is still reading – and wants to hear more about Mirel Wagner and her self titled debut album?
The Mirel Wagner record was recorded in just two days, mostly accompanied by a naked guitar. Minimalist picking the guitar. From bitter sounding melodies to more mantra-riff-o-rama – all performed solely on the guitar. Only accompanied by Mirel Wagners lonely yet strong and mellow voice
The voice and the songs need to be explained more closely; When Mirel sings, her voice is monotonous, coarse, rough, tired of life – it sounds as if each word must be forced out of her mouth. At the same time, there’s still something oddly beautiful – and she has a natural sensuality in her voice. The recording of her voice and instruments is so quiet and calm that every little strum the guitars neck can be heard. When the nails touches the guitar strings – and her fingers are being dragged up the guitar neck it makes this sliding sound. As if the guitar sighs.
You´ll hear Mirel Wagners voice deep in your ears, so close – you can almost feel the warmth of her breath. Hear the sound of her lips when she separate them and starts to sing – and you´ll even hear them touch each other again when she finishes the song. Even when Mirels tongue moves around her mouth to make this small clicking sound – and it hits the palate and her teeth in the oral cavity. Every small sigh of air she’s making as she prepare her self to sing the next line in her songs – and the sigh of relief that comes at the end of each sentence. I got a feeling that she may be laying down on either bed or on the naked concrete floor or sitting all alone in the dark while recording the album
So tight, close and without doubt very intimate.
Heres the album cover to Mirel Wagners self-titled debut album from 2011. You can hear it here;
From start to end the albums steals only 35 minutes of your lifetime. The themes of the album is pitch-dark and grim stories of death, deep grief, problems and nightmarish small short stories spread over the 9 tracks.
If i should sort her albums in my record collection I sure would put her album in one of these fictional music genres; doom soul, dark folk, goth blues, minimalist folk.
If Mirel Wagner was a color – i would describe her as the non-colors black and white. As her musical world, and the album art, the pictures, the font and the liner notes and lyrics; All in rough black and white!
Only the song “No Hands”, in all of its monotone performance and simple naive text, are envisioned a tiny hope of simple childlike joy …
been riding my bicycle
all day long up and down the old
dusty dirt road
look mother no hands
see the sun filter through the trees
I am happy
…But the happines lasts only until the last open-for-interpretation and disturbing verse…
the wind and the speed
can not see the danger
look mother no hands
Maybe Mirel Wagners “No Hands” is written in a parallel world with the late Syd Barret in mind? Or at least her song is a part two of the song he wrote for his band Pink Floyd – the naive child like same-themed song “Bike”