Meditative Animal’s “Social Gravity”
Meditative Animal’s Social Gravity pulls its seven songs from over two decades worth of Nick Mirisola’s songwriting. It gives the collection quality of being a big swing for the fences. EP releases rarely demonstrate this sort of ambition; Mirisola practically explodes with far-reaching musical talent, and the brief duration does have one perhaps unintended benefit – it condenses the white-hot fires fueling his work into an incandescent blaze enveloping everything in its path.
The Berklee alum puts Meditative Animal’s best artistic foot forward, beginning the EP with its title song. “Social Gravity” has a smooth harmonica-powered glide gently carrying listeners into the arrangement. Mirisola roots the song’s instrumental appeal in the melodic exchanges between acoustic guitar and the aforementioned harmonica. The staccato-like length of each lyric jars you at first, it isn’t common, but listeners will soon adjust. There’s ample alliteration present throughout his writing, and the rhymes invariably pay off in an illuminating way rather than merely resolving the couplet. It’s an outstanding opener.
“Woke at Midnight” is one of three tracks on the EP utilizing Kirsten Glidden’s skills. Her voice provides a powerful wild card for Social Gravity as it counterbalances Mirisola’s timbre and personality with a much different approach. She diversifies the album’s artistic impact, but the overall vocal arrangement is an EP high point. This is more distinctive than the album opener and, at some points, recalls the sound of someone falling downstairs. That’s a compliment, by the way.
Thanks to the glittering musical and vocal treatment, the off-kilter humor of “Saint’s Dilemma” soars. You can hear the yearning and restlessness when the massed vocals sing, “It’s never enough, never enough…“, but striving for clarity and something higher than ourselves is a constant theme “Rise Up in Love” gets one hell of a charge from its slashing acoustic guitar lashing into listeners from the outset. Meditative Animal tempers its scourging sound with brief flashes of synthesizer, and the intensely percussive impact of the guitar playing lays down a furious tempo.
“Righteously Sublime” concludes the EP, where Mirisola’s lyrics are once again superb. You cannot overstate the difficulty songwriters face maintaining a consistent balance between poetic vision and accessibility. It’s easy to slip into songwriting that’s obscure or too personal. Meditative Animal’s Nick Mirisola faces none of that in Social Gravity.
He has written a collection of songs invoking both the internal and external. He’s hit upon an individual formula for songwriting success that’s much more malleable than most without ever losing its way. There are no ham-fisted efforts at being super-serious, no self-indulgence. It isn’t any cliché saying Nick Mirisola’s Meditative Animal is releasing music unlike anyone else working today. It’s a fantastic work filled with surprises, challenging twists, and sparks with the fire of genuine inspiration. Let’s hope he gets an opportunity to bring Social Gravity’s songs to live audiences and that Meditative Animal soon makes a follow-up project.
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