- by Andy Brown Rating:9 Release Date:2019-07-19 Label: Lionessence Records
Ferine, the debut album by Leeds based singer-songwriter Miranda Arieh, announces the arrival of a distinctive new voice. From the music videos that preceded the album’s release to the LP’s gorgeously gilded artwork; Arieh has arrived as a bold, fully-formed star in the making.
Of course, no artist arrives at a place like this overnight and while Ferine feels like the beginning of a journey it isn’t the whole story. Arieh has spent years playing to crowds around Leeds and further afield, honing her skills as a songwriter and performer.
This isn’t exactly Arieh’s debut album, having self-released the fantastic Viva Vivacity in 2015. The album was a stripped-down solo effort driven by acoustic guitars and Arieh’s voice; a beautiful, bittersweet, fireside folk album.
Ferine acts as a bold re-introduction, the sound of a performer fully embracing her art and newfound confidence. The videos to ‘The End’, ‘Impossible’, ‘Soul Price’ and ‘Well You’ revealing an artist in ascension, experimenting with her aesthetic like a true, game-changing pop-star.
‘Hold On’ is the ideal way to raise the curtain; a bright, constantly-shifting and inspiring piece of songwriting. The song strikes a balance between pop know-how and invention; piano-led soulfulness and an ear for a gorgeous yet unconventional composition. Think Owen Pallet jamming a Nina Simone song.
Arieh’s voice and piano playing are central to the songs yet Ferine is practically bursting with rich and varied instrumentation. ‘Hold On’ building to a stunning samba with saxophones, trumpets, accordion, bass and drums. The sprightly ‘Soul Price’ has string arrangements and a rather lovely (and unexpected) clarinet solo while ‘How Does it Feel’ experiments with woozy electronica.
You really can’t underestimate the drumming on the album, Conor Lawrence and Aid Todd providing consistently fresh, creative and ever-changing rhythms. In fact, it’s astonishing just how much Arieh and her band fit into the standard 3-minute pop-song time limit. This is pop reinvigorated, brim-full of joy and creativity.
Arieh’s voice is thoroughly distinctive, a strong and incredibly passionate presence at the heart of the album. She effortlessly somersaults through her vocal range on the likes of ‘Viva Vivacity’ while an emotional and melancholic ‘Well You’ arguably provides the albums most nakedly beautiful melody.
Arieh has worked tirelessly as a mental health campaigner, culminating in receiving a ‘Social Impact Star’ award from the Yorkshire based, mental health group Inspiring Women Changemakers. It’s a passion that clearly informs and inspires her approach to music.
The technicolour pop of ‘Impossible’ is about songwriting itself, written after a conversation Arieh had with a sex worker about the power and comfort offered by music. The album is filled with pain and challenges but with a message of hope, strength and letting go.
Ferine is an album about finally opening the curtains and stepping out into the light. It’s a life-affirming, thoroughly inspired and wildly creative LP of alternative pop with a strong and heartfelt message at its core. The sound of an artist coming into her own, you get the feeling that Miranda Arieh has only just got started.