LISA MITCHELL – “WONDER” [****/****]
Funny, adorable, cheerful – Lisa Mitchell is each of these. After placing sixth on Australian Idol, the 19 year old singer-songwriter releases her debut album entitled Wonder. The first thought I had after giving this LP a once over was “Australia really fucked up” because she is the most talented youth in music today and it only took me the 53 minutes that her album lasted to realize this.
The album starts with an intro of sorts called “Oh What a Beautiful Morning”. Sounds of footsteps on gravel, children playing and a delicate little voice fluctuating daintily amongst the walk is heard. Immediately you’re bound to like the charm this teen exudes and it takes only the 45 seconds of the first song to hook you.
Then the first two ‘songs’ contrast in sound. First is Neopolitan Dreams, a delightful little ballad with crisp lyrics and the pop-folk sounds of an Au Revoir Simone or a lighter Aimee Mann. The next would be So Jealous, which sounds a lot like Tegan and Sara pre-Sainthood. These tracks being at the beginning set you up for the rest of the album well. Fortunately for me there’s more Simone than Sara found in this, so I found myself completely absorbing this album.
The fourth track (third song) is Coin Laundry. This is the most delightful song of the year and should be considered as such by all. Very sweet lyrics — “do you have a dollar / do you have a dollar for me? / have you got a little old house / and a lemon tree?” — tell the story about a young woman’s wistfulness of finding love in the most banal of places. But it isn’t drearily sung like a depressive, but done with an idyllic sense of love. It’s wonderful to have a song like this amidst the Death Cab for Cutie’s and Jenny Owen Youngs’.
Then there’s a fine song called Clean White Love which is the only drip out of a well-structured sound that is found throughout the rest of the album and has lacking lyrics to boot. But she follows this up with two excellent tracks — Pirouette, a song about a woman in a loveless marriage, but feeling liberated in having a dance with a nice man (the high-pitched bagpipe in the background really makes this melody unique) and LoveLetter (a song that brings tears to my eyes). I didn’t want to create a bloated review for this album talking about so many songs, but I have to. With LoveLetter, you’re introduced to the frail and lonely mind of a musician on the road. This has been done many, many, many times, but her use of imagery and the simplicity of her softly cracking voice amidst the melancholic piano hits this one deep for anyone emotionally. The lyrics are too brilliant to ignore. She kicks it off with “I’d like a flat white / a day of pale skies / and a real kiss”, which so perfectly introduces you to her situation. She’s sick of a semi-flashy life, relationships based solely on sexual attraction and that she’d just like to be back in her humble country. Perhaps it’s too early in your career to make such a song (as I’ve stated time and time again) and she may be out of her element, but it’s composed with the utmost maturity, so I’m taking this track as seriously as I can.
Two tracks later is Red Wine Lips. Another brilliant song. Then two tracks after that is Stevie, which may be my favourite song on the album. Honestly, there are about five “best of the year” tracks on this LP which makes it so easy to listen to time and time again. There are rookie songs in between some of them which shows the youth in her, but even then she’s produced an album better than 95% have this year.
If you like simple indie albums with their minds far away from pretension and melodies you simultaneously can both weep and dance too, Wonder is for you. If you don’t like Lisa Mitchell’s debut album, I suggest you go to the hospital immediately and ask your doctor where your heart is.