Music Review – Ari & Mia

Album: Land on Shore

Artist: Ari & Mia

These musical sisters from Boston are taking the Americana/folk rock music scene by storm. Land on Shore is the duo’s second album, after the success of their first album, Unruly Heart released in 2010, which ranked high on the national folk radio charts.

Contributing their unique sound to the musical influences that they were exposed to while studying at The New England Music Conservatory, Ari and Mia have opened for musicians such as Cheryl Wheeler, toured with national Scottish fiddle champion Hanneke Cassel, and won the John Lennon Songwriting Contest for their song “Across the Water.”

Ari and Mia have been compared to folk musicians like The Stray Birds and Gillian Welsh, but the sisters stand out with their modern twists on the classic folk sounds and songs. Occasionally you catch wisps of a distinctive drum sound in the background and more of a rock influence surfaces at times, but for me this is what makes their music great. You never know quite what to expect with their songs. That unpredictability is what made me go from liking this harmonious duo to loving them.

The sisters grew up playing music together, and you can hear that chemistry and ease of years playing side-by-side in their music. Their combination of vocals and instruments is not only melodious but it carries you away, relaxes you, and entices you to share in the stories and sounds of days gone by.

The song “Away” reminded me of how it feels to set off on an adventure?the hesitation of the unexpected, yet the exhilaration that immediately follows. The superb singing in “Away” lends an air of innocence to the song, almost describing how we all felt leaving home for the first time.

The up and downs of emotion, and truly the collective human experience, are the fundamentals of this album. The song “Turn Me Round” instantly made me think of how it feels in the summer time, sitting with friends and family around a camp fire, sharing stories and taking a time out of our hectic modern life to slow down and relish the easier moments.

The song “Hymn” was completely unexpected. Just when I thought that I had figured out Ari and Mia’s music they surprise me with a song that is not only haunting and slightly reminiscent of a pirate’s ballad, but eerily beautiful. This song is in sharp contrast to the upbeat fiddle playing of “Turtle” which made me tap my toes and chair-dance as I listened to it.

I could talk for hours about each song on the album, even share the story that springs to mind as each track plays out. But that is what I think folk music is all about, not just the original stories that inspire songs, but how we can make each song our own musical track for the stories that we share with those around us.

Ari and Mia will be touring the northeastern United States this spring and summer. Upon the completion of their summer tour, the folk duo will be touring Australia in September.

Samantha Stevens is an aspiring writer who loves combining her love for literature with photography, painting, music, and all creative pursuits.