Australian chanteuse Lisa Mitchell has recently released her debut album Wonder. A quirky tender mix of dreamy acoustic based folk pop, with occasional country rock tinges, the album could appeal to the mainstream as well as those who like slightly more leftfield female acts such as Emiliana Torrini, Alessi’s Ark, Julia Stone and most notably Lenka, whom Mitchell shares a vocal similarity to. But for many potential listeners, the words “Came 6th on Australian Idol,” would be enough to make them turn about face, which is a shame, because Wonder is a pleasantly enjoyable listening experience a world away from Gareth Gates or Alexandra Burke. Lisa is virtually unknown in the UK, having played just a handful of pub dates, one of which we wrote about here , and a slot at Glastonbury, but she will be raising her profile this autumn when she heads out on the road supporting Newton Faulkner on his national tour.
You may be familiar with the xylophone based “Ba-da, ba-da,” catchiness of Neapolitan Dreams; a song which has been used in a variety of advertising campaigns including a Spanish department store and a well known brand of washing powder in the UK. Indeed it’s not hard listening to Mitchell’s music to imagine that the lady herself smells all lemony and fragrant, with another one of the songs on the album having a washeteria referencing title - Coin Laundry. It’s a tune that features a human beat box “Boom boom,” sample and a cute hooky mid-tempo chorus of “Do you have a dollar? Do you have a dollar for me?” Coin Laundry is one of the more slightly eccentric numbers on the album, and for those who love remixes there's a wonderfully blissed out non album dance mix available online here by the mighty Starsmith. By the time we get to Clean White Love we begin to wonder if Lisa is mysophobic, such are all the references and links to hygiene. But as you continue to listen to Wonder, Mitchells’ fresh faced approach and almost baby-doll vocal wash away any negativity you may possess.
Not everything is so cute and clean though. Sidekick starts with industrial clanking drums before punching with jazzy entertainer style piano, bluesy rock riffs and horns. It adds variety to the album that features a number of different styles that all complement each other well and never seem too misplaced.
Overall Wonder is a kookily innocent light of touch sounding record that shows that Lisa Mitchell has some song writing talent; the best songs on the album are ones that she wrote alone. Co-writers such as Ed Harcourt and Ant Whiting add variation, but not always quality. Wonder does not ever achieve greatness, but is without question a commendable debut with a pleasing wistful disposition that smiles at you with simple and direct loveliness. Reality TV did something good for once.