by Miranda Hale

Mirah Yom Tov Zeitlyn sings with the voice of a little girl and with the conviction of a grown woman. Both her voice and her lyrics work to defy musical convention and expectation to create something surprising. C'mon Miracle (K Records), her third full-length release, provides more of the lo-fi, introspective yet surprisingly unself-conscious indie-pop that Mirah has become known for. Yet this album is even quieter than her previous releases, with arrangements that are tranquil and beautiful, allowing Mirah's voice to supply most of the emotion and impact of each song. The lyrics are about loving and regret, struggle and peace, and how it's often impossible to truly have one without also having the other. Ultimately, this is an album bursting with the feeling of hope in the face of despair.

On the album's opener, "Nobody Has To Stay," subtle yet persistent guitar crescendos accompany lyrics asking a loved one to "Come away with me today. Everything should be OK." From other singers, such straightforward, simple statements may seem embarrassingly earnest and almost clich & eacute;d, but here they somehow seem both mature and original in their lack of self-consciousness.

The most political moment of the album, "Jerusalem," condemns Israel's current state of Zionism and violence. The lyrics issue warnings about Jerusalem's current state of affairs, "the lessons we should learn from all the fighting in the days of old," over upbeat, subtly danceable melodies.

On "We're Both So Sorry," Mirah's lyrical honesty and straightforwardness mix lines like "you always seemed to lose the spark when I was only half-undressed" with bizarre, often indefinable musical accompaniment (including what sounds like a foghorn mixed in with various string instruments) to the effect of an intimate and beautifully empathetic break-up anthem.

There is a time for despair, and there's a time to get back up and dance again. Mirah understands that beauty doesn't come without pain and that empathy is one of the most potent and useful tools humans possess. Her voice is her best instrument, and on this album, she uses it to near perfection. C'mon Miracle is the work of a deft and maturing singer-songwriter. It's perfect for those reflective summer evenings full of hope and promise.

Publication date: 07/08/04

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Oct. 19-31, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
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