New York’s Holly Miranda will release her new album ‘Mutual Horse’ on February 23, 2018 through Dangerbird Records. Her first release since 2015, ‘Mutual Horse’ is Holly’s fourth solo release since emerging on XL with her much-praised 2010 debut ‘The Magician’s Private Library’.
Growing up between America’s two First Towns of Music, Detroit and Nashville, Holly Miranda began playing piano at the age of six, taught her self-guitar at 14, and by 16 had moved to New York to start her professional career. For nearly 20 years, she’s been performing, writing and producing with some of the best talent in the business, including the likes of Karen O, Lou Reed and The xx, while releasing two records with her band The Jealous Girlfriends.
“I’ve always been a proponent of not making the same record twice,” Holly Miranda says. “Some people find a niche and go with that, but I need to try something different every time.” That’s more than apparent on ‘Mutual Horse’, Miranda’s fourth full-length solo release, which is more than just an artistic step forward, it’s a whole new way for her to make music. “This really is the most collaborative record I’ve ever done,” she says. “It’s first time I’ve shared so much of the writing and the production, the meat and bones of making an album.”
With support from a stellar circle of players – including My Brightest Diamond’s Shara Nova, TV On The Radio’s Kyp Malone, Grandaddy/Modest Mouse’s Jim Fairchild and Built To Spill’s Matthew Morgan amongst others – it’s Miranda’s astonishing singing voice that is set free, elevating this collection of songs as no one else could. An instrument which can shift from a barely-there whisper to a soaring wail that cracks open the sky, Holly’s voice is startling from the moment it emerges on ‘Mutual Horse’.
Miranda retains an honest and intimate approach to songwriting across the record. The horn-led groove of ‘Golden Spiral’ fuses anachronistic story-telling with Holly’s off-kilter take on pop, inspired by her friend’s recollection of growing up in 70’s Los Angeles, where a neighbor would ride his horse to the local 7-Eleven store every day. Chiming, brass-backed lead single ‘Exquisite’ reunites Holly with long-time collaborator Kyp Malone for a musing on atonement, whilst the eerie, obsessive ‘Mr Fong’s’ bursts into a lightning bolt of a chorus. Elsewhere, an emotional resonance draws together the disarming ‘To Be Loved’ & ‘Sing Like My Life’ (which is followed by a recording of Holly’s own mother singing while pregnant with her), also driving a masterful cover of Crazy Horse’s ‘When Your Lonely Heart Breaks’.
‘Mutual Horse’ was recorded in Los Angeles, where Miranda laid down the beginnings of 23 songs before returning to her home base of New York to finish the songs that would end up on the album. The Dangerbird studio also inspired the album’s title: “Mutual Horse comes from this image we hung in the studio. It was a photo of the singer-songwriter Cris Williamson – we did a cover of her song ‘MidnightOil’ – and I had become a big fan,” Miranda explains. “We printed out photos of her from the 1970s and taped them up around the studio; that was our vibe.” One of those photos was of Williamson and another woman holding the reins of a horse; the two women are staring at each other, but the horse is staring at the camera. That picture was on the wall of Miranda’s studio, and eventually someone scrawled the phrase “Mutual Horse” beneath it.
“It doesn’t feel like just mine,” Miranda says of the album, which eventually took its name from the graffiti. “It feels like it belongs to everybody who worked on it. I opened myself to collaborating this time around, which made me really vulnerable.” As Holly sings ‘Sometimes you got to leave where you stood, to come back and find you feel understood’ on album closer Mt. Hood – a song about accepting uncertainty, written whilst atop Oregon’s towering mountain peak – there’s no mistaking the risk has paid off, and then some.