Remember a couple of years ago when a young lass from the suburbs with a tender melancholy vocal and acoustic guitar appeared and stunned us all with sepia tinged folk songs that were mature beyond her years ? Then we jumped forward in time and she was nominated for a Mercury Prize for her album Alas I Cannot Swim.
Her name was Laura Marling.
Well, now it’s time to meet another singer songwriter protégé, that in terms of vocal styling and acoustic beauty is bound to draw many comparisons with Miss Marling. Her name is Lisa Mitchell; like Marling she’s still in her teens, and she’s from Australia, although she has roots in the UK having been born in England to a Scottish father.
Unlike Laura Marling however Lisa Mitchell started her career with massive TV exposure. Yes folks, she was a contestant on Australian Idol. Now usually on hearing such a fact my ears would switch off immediately to defend against the possibility of the nightmare soundscape of Gareth Gates and Michelle McMannus infiltrating my brain . However Australian Idol seems somewhat removed from the UK versions of these karaoke freak shows, having allowed musicians to play their own instruments. It has therefore produced a number of performers who are actually of some credibility and artistic worth. Although Mitchell didn’t win the show, it was a stepping stone for her to a move to London, a deal with RCA records, and as yet unreleased album being recorded with Ant Whiting of Arctic Monkeys and Zero 7 fame, together with a song writing collaboration with Ed Hardcourt. Certainly not the sort of CV Rik Waller would be able to write.
Bizarrely you may have already stumbled across a snippet of Lisa’s new single Neopolitan Dreams via the unlikely route of a laundry product advert, the ‘new sensory experience’ (well that’s what it says on their web site) of lemon and bergamot Surf. With its plucked acoustic guitar, xylophones, piano and ‘Ba ba ba,’ hook line it is probably poppier and fluffier than anything than Marling has produced despite the similarity in vocal. Here's the video.
Not all of her material sounds quite as Marlingesque, lightweight or commercial as Neopolitan Dreams though. See You When You Get Here is darker, edgier and almost claustrophobic and well worth a place on anyone’s I Pod. Unfortunately Incomplete Lullaby does not deserve any such place, sounding like a poor mans X Factor ballad, played by one of Regina Spektor’s piano technicians. However with that exception Lisa Mitchell certainly has some ability, and for once those dreaded Saturday evening talent shows may have actually come up trumps.
The video to See You When You Get Here