Mia Dyson – Idyllwild

Read our review of Mia Dyson’s new album ‘Idyllwild’


Mia Dyson @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014 Photo – Jim Jacob


Mia Dyson’s New Album


A Joyous Soulful Celebration


“I do not have a record contract that says I have to make a record.  I do it because I’m compelled to.  Because control is an illusion.  I make records to put it down finally and to release that control.  To stop second-guessing.

It’s taken five albums to let go and step into the dark.  I’m following songs where they lead me now.  It’s unpredictable, where they’ll go.  As the process unfolds the songs reveal themselves.

I’ve learned to trust the process, trust the skills I’ve built up, the people I’ve chosen to surround myself with.

By letting go of the illusion of control with this band of creative people, we are able to put a puzzle together one small, obscure piece at a time.  Something we can share.  Something we found by following the songs like partners in a dance.

And now we release them to your care.  You can follow them where they lead you.”  Mia Dyson


Mia Dyson is a singer, guitarist and songwriter from Victoria, Australia.  She’s released four critically acclaimed albums, all of which have been nominated or won ARIA Awards.  Her recent release, 2013’s The Moment was particularly feted.


Four past ARIA nominations (Best Female Artist, Best Blues & Roots album);
2012 Best Blues & Roots album ARIA nomination for The Moment;
“When The Moment Comes” nominated for APRA Song of the Year;
One ARIA win – Best Blues and Roots album – Parking Lots


Mia has performed all over the world at prestigious festivals and venues and shared the stage with legendary musicians.  Her latest album Idyllwild will be released on 6 June 2014.  She currently resides in Los Angeles, California.




I have been listening to Idyllwild for four days now (without much other music, which is unusual for me) and am mightily impressed.

It was produced by Pat Cupples and Erin “Syd” Sidney for The Co-Op and recorded by Jason Mariani at Brotheryn Studios in Ojai California.  Alongside Dyson (electric and baritone guitars, harmonica and lap steel), are Lee Pardini (bass, piano and keyboards), Erin “Syd” Sidney on percussion and Pat Cupples (backing vocals and additional guitar).

“Idyllwild” is the opening number and is based on a town in California – it’s frenetic, jangly and jumpy with a catchy chorus.  “Growing Up” is more of a blueprint for what is to come, an exploration of sounds evolving freely in the studio.  It is a slower, more deliberate and passionate story with Dyson’s voice cracking with emotion a la Lucinda Williams.  “When We’re Older” reflects on society ignoring people as they get older.  The song was featured in at least one of the sets at Bluesfest in Byron Bay this year when she performed with Liz Stringer and Jen Cloher – a terrific experiment.  The track is an obvious single or entree to radio and contains a dominant guitar solo.


“That Sugar” is a gem, featuring beautiful singing and sentiments with hand clap percussion and I’m wondering whether Dyson has ever been in such finer vocal fettle.  ‘That sugar only lasts a while…That sugar always lets me down‘.  “Any 3 Chords” ups the ante even more, a restrained approach works wonders and the guitar riff is sublime.  The message is about gigs, being a band member and the reason for being in the music business.  The guitar outro here is perfectly paced.  “Made From The Same Clay” features piano and a Beatle-esque Magical Mystery Tour keyboard style and superb song construction.  “She Can’t Take The World” returns to the quick-paced, rolling percussion pop sensibility and “Want You There” is another treat – stirring and dripping with passion with a measured, uplifting outro – yet another key moment on the album.

“Mama Was” discusses parents as people, with their individual lives and experiences, past decisions made and wondering about the reasons for those choices.  “Crazy Horse is inspired by stories of the American West and is another terrific track – somehow it sounds very familiar.  Have I heard it before or does it just sound immediately good, its strong melody, great arrangements and soaring vocals capturing my attention.  “Based On Your Eyes” is a tour de force.  A joyful, soul laden celebration of love and sharing. Voice again parched with feeling, reminiscent of Lucinda (again) and the supreme Dusty Springfield.  It’s a stunning way to close out a towering collection.

For my money, Mia Dyson is in career-best form and Idyllwild is my favourite Australian album of the year so far.


Read our review of Mia Dyson’s new album ‘Idyllwild’






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Author: Rob Dickens

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