By: Sarah Moore
Mia Doi Todd's Gea (released by City Zen Records on March 4th) is fertile with emotion, creative energy and bongo-backed folk songs. The singer/songwriter/guitarist/poet/painter/dancer (phew) culls her wisdom into a meditative, transient collection of songs.
"River of Life" is aptly named as soft percussion by Andres Renteria outlines Todd's repetitive, flowing vocals. Her dark alto voice recalls a Zen-like Bethany of Bethany and Rufus with a thick, lush tone. "River of Life" is characterized by the ebb and flow of waves of harmonium, giving Todd’s 9-plus-minute rumination a gypsy, Indian feel (think of the Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows"). Her brand of folk reaches out in Spansish on "Esperar Es Caro" by Armando Suarez-Cobian, the only track here not written by Todd.
While Todd provides a lot of her own accompaniment, she is backed by several musicians, including Miguel Atwood-Ferguson (co-producer, violinist, arranger of brass, strings and woodwinds) and bassist Joshua Abram (Sam Prekop). While her veritable orchestra brings to mind a cluttered array of instruments fighting each other for space, Todd’s project remains a personal, intimate affair. Her close mood comes across as hushed and subtle. Lyrically, Gea offers a look at lost love, worldly disappointments, the throes of love and a new hope. Todd takes the listener on an otherworldly excursion on Gea, simply a must for introspective moments.
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