Meditative Animal’s Nick Mirisola has earned his reputation as one of the most promising songwriters in music today. The foundation of his gifts blurs genre borders while incorporating recognizable strands and traditions. It’s what artists in any medium are supposed to do – learn well what came before, expand on it, make it their own. Mirisola and his collaborators accomplish that on the new EP Social Gravity. He weaves a fantastic set of lyrics rife with moments of exceptional poetry into a head-spinning assortment of musical structures that never falls flat.
He adopts a folk music template for much of the release. It’s far from cookie cutter, however. The title song’s plaintive harmonica playing is memorably paired with playful acoustic guitar for the EP opener. He works with brother John Dixon Mirisola and Kirsten Glidden, but the unquestionable highlight for me is his words. It’s a powerhouse writing experience that manages to feel like two songs packed into one without ever exhausting listeners. Mirisola’s singing has palpable confidence – you can feel the growing momentum he builds as the track progresses.
“Electric Halo” indulges in a little musical sleight of hand at the beginning. It begins in very deliberate, folkie-tradition with a straight-ahead melody.
Mirisola starts shifting time signatures early on and turned this into a bracing listening experience. He’s relaxed about living by the seat of his pants musically and you pay attention waiting to hear what he’ll do next.
They achieve a particularly good guitar sound for this track. It has immediacy, closely miked, and a warm physical attack that guitar lovers will enjoy. I am a big fan of how Mirisola often marries seemingly disparate parts together, seemingly incompatible instrumental voices that seamlessly mesh. “Saint’s Dilemma” is another strong cut. It’s another lyrical high point of the album and much of its final impact comes from the repetitive structure of its verses. Well-rounded songwriting such as this with an accompanying unique point of view is harder to find than ever in modern music. Your opinion may vary. It’s abundant on this release, however.
His capacity for surprise continues exerting a tight hold on Social Gravity. “Wisdom’s Throne” has a much more straight-ahead approach than many of the other cuts included on the release but Mirisola’s ability to fill the song with his personality gives it a personal spin. Its hip hop influences are undeniable. The language alone confounds easy categorization but there’s no mistaking his lyrical voice. The end of Social Gravity comes with the provocatively titled “Righteously Sublime”.
A title such as this opens a world of possibilities regarding its subject matter and Mirisola delivers one of the EP’s definitive all-around performances. It’s an auspicious work, longer than the typical EP release for sure, and that makes sense. Social Gravity is surely a noticeable advance compared to his previous work.
Photo Credit Felicity Morris