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Mia Doi Todd: Cosmic Ocean Ship

Who would’ve guessed that when Mia Doi Todd started out in tiny folk clubs in the mid-’90s—with her guitar and her inclination toward austerity—she’d develop into such a devoted sensualist? Todd’s new album, Cosmic Ocean Ship, is full of songs that contrast the chilliness of urban settings with the call of the exotic, and come down strongly in favor of the latter. The music follows form, building from simple acoustic plucking to something richer and warmer, with rippling piano and brushed percussion, while Todd sings about mango juice and swimming in the salty sea (as on the album-opening “Paratay”) or about lounging around happily with her lover (as on the poppy, Feist-like “My Baby Lives In Paris”). The surfeit of romantic imagery on Cosmic Ocean Ship either indicates that Todd’s in a very sweet place in her life right now, or that she’s using the notion of happy relationships as another form of escapism, on an album designed to be transporting. Because even when Cosmic Ocean Ship gets cloudier in its second half—as on “Canto de Lemanja,” with its creepy psychedelic droning and hypnotic bongos—there’s a sense that Todd is only defining the parameters of the getaway. “The tide is coming and going,” she sings on the gorgeous folk-pop ballad “Summer Lover,” in a way that indicates an appreciation of future bounty amid a time of need.


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