On her first solo recording since 2004, and fourth overall, Mirah has crafted an engaging work that's more diverse and textured than anything she's released before. There’s a lot of instrumentation and dynamics at work here, even to the point of sometimes overwhelming her delicate delivery. Mostly, though, her gorgeous, feathery voice is a tender match for the orchestra of violins, cellos, koras, and other sounds, and her fluttery, soft melodies make you want to lean in closer. Then, just as the pace settles in, she picks things up a notch in the middle of the recording with the propulsive snare and bass line of “Country of the Future,” the electric guitar drive of “The Forest,” and the horns on “Gone Are the Days,” all of which provide a nice counterbalance to the many softer moments. Her lyrics, so nakedly revealing in the past, are more subtle and shrouded in metaphor here while losing none of their dramatic power. (A)spera is a moving and memorable step forward for this talented musician.

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