REVIEW: Mina Tindle – SISTER

To put it simply, Mina Tindle opens SISTER with one of the most beautiful piano ballads I remember hearing. ‘Jessa’ starts with a gentle, lulling piano tune which is barely added to in terms of instrumentation as the song progresses. But if you weren’t already captivated by that gorgeous little piece of music, you surely will be when Tindle starts to sing the following lyrics:

‘Wanna feel like home/I wanna feel like this again/
I need a smile to know/I need your smile to not pretend my rambling is over/
My standing is reeling in the world without you/
Sister, sister, where have you been?/
Sister, sister, where have you been?/

She sings so beautifully that she could recite a Donald Trump speech and make it sound palatable, but when she puts forward such an achingly haunting tale of missing her sister it is hard not to fall instantly in love. What a way to start an album. Second song ‘Lions’ is equally impressive. Here, Tindle shows another side to her range by singing in a deeper register. There is a little more to the instrumentation too, but from early on it is clear that we are dealing with someone who knows how to make silence and simplicity work for them.

I became aware of Mina Tindle when she featured on The National’s I Am Easy To Find (she is married to band member Bryce Dessner), but had never spent time with her solo music before. I thought I would give SISTER a cursory listen and then move on. But after those opening two songs I knew I would be sticking around, and I am pleased to say that the quality never lets up. Sufjan Stevens featuring ‘Give A Little Love’ comes next. But despite the big name feature, this song really is all about Mina Tindle. Another truly stunning vocal performance and another heartbreaking story being told; this song, like the first two, makes you long to stand in a low-lit room and watch this performer at the piano. The breakdown when she sings ‘All I want is a little bit of love/Is a little bit of your heart’ is one of the most breathtaking pieces of music I’ve heard this year.

It is a testament to Tindle’s performance and songwriting that I still really enjoy the songs in which she deploys her native French. My obsession with lyrics often means I struggle with songs I don’t understand. But ‘Louis’ and ‘Belle Penitence’ both feel like perfect fits in an album that feels like a dream at times; the ideal accompaniment to our attempts to escape our locked down existence.

The biggest changes of style come towards the end of the album with the fuller and more traditional sounding ‘Fire and Sun’ followed by the album’s highlight ‘Triptyque.’ This soaring track demonstrates everything that Tindle does so well across this album while also adding something new with its gentle build over ten minutes and its various changes of tack. At times acapella, at others sung over the most complicated pieces of music on the album, this song should be enough to convince anyone of the talent on show here.

The album then ends with the lovely ‘Is Anything Wrong?’ I would say no. This should appeal to anyone who admires the beauty of simplicity, the careful crafting of song and album, and a voice that could quiet a very large room. Deserves to reach a wide audience.

Words by Fran Slater.

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