Interview: Mirah on taking risks and returning east (plays Johnny Brenda’s on Tuesday)

No one would accuse Mirah of making the same album twice. Since she first came out of K Records’ storied stable with 2000’s You Think It’s Like This But Really It’s Like This, the singer-songwriter born Mirah Yom Tov Zeitlyn has recorded four-track treatises on love and lust, sonic experimentations with studio whiz Phil Elverum, and a string of collaborations that cast her as everything from anti-war folkie to biology-lab sweetheart to disco siren.

But since 2009, Mirah hasn’t released an album at all — at least, not a solo album like the ones that charmed her earliest fans, filled with intimate observations and masterful melodies. Last year, she first made the funky, organic Thao & Mirah with Thao Nguyen and tUnE-yArDs’ Merrill Garbus, then the one-off dance single “Low Self Control” with Tender Forever. While her next project is gestating, expect fresh takes on older favorites on Tuesday when she plays Johnny Brenda’s with a band that includes Lori Goldston (cello), Alex Guy (viola/violin/loop pedals) and drummer/vibraphonist Andrew Maguire (drums/vibraphone).

It’s a homecoming of sorts for the native Philadelphian, who recently relocated to New York after spending 20 years on the West Coast. (Talk about bad timing.) We spoke on the phone on Election Day about surviving Sandy, flexing new musical muscles and returning to the city where she was born 38 years ago. Continue reading →