Album Review: Lisa Mitchell - Spiritus (2012 EP)

It’s been almost three years since we’ve heard new material from Melbourne based singer-songwriter Lisa Mitchell. Her debut album Wonder (2009) impressed many with its beautiful lyrics and simple pop melodies, and it’s safe to say that her new Spiritus EP is just as endearing, if not more so.

The entire EP is audibly more sophisticated than Wonder and it is obvious that Mitchell has grown and matured as a musician. Her vocals are much stronger compared to the more tentative, whispery vocals that dominated her debut. She also demonstrates a larger range, and more complex chord progressions and instrumental licks in these five tracks – this is particularly clear on the title track and lead single. “Spiritus” is upbeat and positively joyful, with an insanely catchy piano riff and gorgeous vocal work from Mitchell. Something about it reminds me of a less Disney-ified version of “Under the Sea” from the Little Mermaid – and I only mean that in a good way!

“Spiritus” is definitely the catchiest and most radio-friendly track on the EP, and is really a stark contrast to the rest of the EP – the others are more contemplative and demure. Both “I Am a Traveller” and “Erik” are gentle, delicate and reminiscent; “Parade Song” is a great closer to the EP – her voice has a lovely tone in this track, accompanied by simple but effective piano and guitar.

Throughout the whole EP, lyrics are a very strong point and it is clear that Mitchell is a very capable songwriter, tackling deep emotions and issues with tact and poeticism. My only criticism of this EP would be that at times, her unclear diction and enunciation is a slight barrier to understanding the lyrics on the first listen. However, where the lyrics are the main focus, rather than her vocals, I think the words are easy to understand and the meaning shines through.

My favourite song on Spiritus is “Diamond in the Rough” – the first time I listened to it, I literally stopped in my tracks. The lyrics are among some of the most beautiful I’ve ever heard, and the minimalistic piano accompaniment is heartbreaking. Mitchell’s voice is wonderfully vulnerable and hopeful and the melody of the song is compelling. The harmonies towards the end are gorgeous, and I honestly think this song is flawless. It is astoundingly poignant without being pretentious at all and is, simply put, a masterpiece.

All in all, Lisa Mitchell has produced a commendable 5-track. A pleasure to listen to as always, Spiritus basically epitomises wintery Sundays spent with cups of soup, mugs of coffee and books and is a perfect soundtrack for this season. Her dainty vocal work and generally acoustic accompaniment combine to make some modestly sublime music. Just make sure you listen to the words – they’ll be sure to blow you away. Mitchell’s sophomore album is slated for September this year, and I for one can’t wait to hear it!

Review score: 9.6 out of 10