You Think It’s Like This

But Really It’s Like This

K Records

Mirah writes songs as big as fables. Her heart becomes a set of Fourth of July fireworks, an engine, and target practice for luv-dipped arrows. Her house gets rocked by earthquakes, floods, and fires. A tide washes over her when she sleeps. If that weren’t enough, a lover tries to kill her with 100 knives. She can go as soft as rotting fruit and as difficult as a dominatrix: “Tie me to the Murphy bed/Let’s do all the things you’ve said/Tie me to the Murphy bed/Let’s just fall asleep instead.” Funny. Mirah can be as melodramatic as Britney Spears on a Diet Coke high with her debut album, You Think It’s Like This But Really It’s Like This. But you forgive her. Her tunes are big enough to brave any metaphorical goofs. She has achieved something folkies rarely aspire to—a headphones record. The best folkies—Nick Drake et al.—turned intimacy into an instrument. She does the same, except she adds more sounds to the form: trolley bells, whistles, reverb-y guitars, pot-and-pan patter, jazzbo piano, antique drum machines, and even a few ba-da-da-bum-bums. The tinkering sounds don’t come off as lo-fi gimmicks—they give the songs teeth. “Sweepstakes Prize” bookends with guitar buzz and drum splashes, setting off the verses in which Mirah goes one-on-one with her simple guitar three-note melodies. The extra umph saves the song from Lilith territory. And at the center of each tune is her 13-year-old girl’s voice; it purrs, scratches, bellows, and coats each song like Saran Wrap. Her smooth readings coax out warbly intimacy. On songs such as “Pollen” and “Person Person,” Mirah whispers straight into your ear, as if everything she sings is a secret—which is impossible to resist. You end up believing her stories about floods and knives.—Jason Cherkis