I believe music is seasonal, and that it can inspire an internal feeling inside oneself. Certain albums transport me back to autumn, and I fondly remember borrowing boys’ jackets to combat the chilly breezes and the crunching sound of crisp red and yellow leaves under my sneakers. Other music puts me in a summery mood and reminds me of days spent riding bikes in Venice under a shimmering sun, and driving to nearby lofts in the wee hours of the morning, waiting for someone who lived there to open the door, and then climbing to the top, and looking out over city.
With the current LA weather being as dull, cold, and cloudy as it is right now, the one thing I need is an album to bring me back to those glory days of summer. Bermuda-born Mishka’s third release (his first on Matthew McConaughey’s j. k. livin label), Above the Bones, is that album. It’s a smooth, carefree, sun-soaked record made for the free of spirit and the warm of heart.
The album opener, “Higher Heights,” is, on the surface, a simple reggae-flavored track, but a closer look at its lyrics shows a deeper side. Over easy-going guitars and a simple drum beat, Mishka croons, “People, the power, it’s in your hands/so chase out corruption/heal this beautiful land.” Taking serious, meaningful lyrics and placing them over sweet melodies and psychedelic guitar riffs seems to be Mishka’s thing, and he does it well. On “Long Road,” he discusses the road of life and the importance of virtue and never giving up, but he does so over softly singing female backup voices and an acoustic guitar.
The album never feels preachy or condescending; it just feels honest and real. That feeling is amplified on the latter part of the album, when Mishka explores his more folk-y side. ”Guy with a Guitar” is the rawest explanation of who Mishka is. He describes himself as a brother, a sailor, a friend, a lover, and, most simply, a man with a guitar who is singing to those he loves.
“Some Paths” is somewhat reminiscent of Devendra Banhart’s early releases and is laden with mental images of tropical flowers and sandy beaches, which harkens back to Mishka’s Carribean upbringing.
From its heavy use of island-specific instruments to its slow, swaying rhythms, Above the Bones is an instant transport to summer and perhaps the only thing to makes these gray, rainy days bearable.