Music Review - Miranda Dodson: Change A Thing


Miranda Dodson is an Austin, TX singer/songwriter. I know of her music because she is the sister-in-law of Jonathan Dodson, pastor/planter of Austin City Life Church. I almost turned down the chance of getting a review copy of Change A Thing because I didn't want to risk not liking what Jonathan pointed me to. But I took a chance. And here we go.

I like a lot of music of various sorts. Plenty of it is by people with so-so voices. A lot of the best music out there is by singers that are pretty good but not great. I rarely hear a new album or artist and say, "Dude, that chick can sing!" This is one of those albums and one of those artists. But she also sets that voice in place and works the message. She doesn't show off. It's a tool. 

Miranda's voice is really interesting. She has power, range and control. It can sound full and rich. It can also sizzle a bit. In an email to her I said her voice has a "fizzy edge" to it. Something like Nelly Furtado's voice at times. She can also turn the fizz up for one song (like "Too Late") and fill her voice out a bit in another (like "Fly"). I hear some of my favorite sirens like Neko Case and Jenny Lewis too. No question about Patty Griffin as well, as you can see from Miranda's great cover of "Up To The Mountain."

Miranda writes her own stuff, but the songs aren't overly lyrical or streams of consciousness. So while I hear hints of Joanna Newsom in her voice, I find nothing of her vast storytelling. This isn't wordy. This isn't really story. This is snapshot. As I hear it, it's life meets God and captured in a moment. And the argument is brief, to the point. Someone like Newsom adds a million brush strokes. Dodson is taking pictures and tweaking how we feel about them through adding some musical black and white tones, or upping the saturation, or cropping in to less-noticed detail.

Track list & brief comment

Too Late - (video, video2) - Love it. Catchy, but not in typical ways. When the chorus soars a bit, I'm riding it.
Slow Motion - (video) - Slower song. Lovely. Thoughtful. Country flavored. Singing in boots & a hat as lovers cling to one another on beer-splattered hardwood.
Home - My favorite song, by far. I still haven't figured out exactly why yet. I think it might be how it starts acoustic & quiet and lets loose a bit at the chorus. I LOVE the chorus.

change isn’t gonna change a thing;
sold our souls a long time ago
tryin’ to get back, tryin’ to get back

where do we come from, and where
will we go from here where, along this road, did we lose our souls?

Sitting In Limbo - A Jimmy Cliff cover. Fun. Hammocks. Sweet tea. Still saying something.
Stone - Yikes. Slows down and hits you between the eyes. *Marriage.Not.Working.*
Prodigal - (video) - Great song. Wide appeal. Catchy, toe-tapping.

This lump in my throat grows larger and larger
It’s my pride, I know, and it’s getting harder,
I must have swallowed…I will wallow

It seems as though I’ve reached my destination,
no need to make your reservation
The seats are taken, save for one at the bottom

King - "This is no kingdom." Immediately appealing and enjoyable.
I Will Be Free - Love the Brandi Carlile flavor I hear in this one. Positive. Driving. Moving. Hopeful.
Fly - One of the most interesting tracks on the album. Structure harder to discern for me. Interesting sounds, strings. The melody follows the flight of the butterfly in the song. Beautiful.

you carry the rainbow on your wings,
you dance so I can hear your wings
you carry me like you carry thieves,
you carry hope like the Prince of Peace

Never Be The Same - Short. Contemplative. Simple. Not simplistic. 

I highly recommend and have been thoroughly enjoying Change A Thing. I hope you'll pick it up. 

Buy Miranda Dodson: Change A Thing