Mia Doi Todd | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Mia Doi Todd

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On most of her new album, Manzanita (Plug Research), Mia Doi Todd is in retreat, pondering relationships with both desire and regret and never looking beyond her own backyard. Despite the insular feel of its moody folk pop, Manzanita is Todd's most accessible record, and she made it without compromising the best part of her music: her bell-clear, immaculately mannered vocals, which borrow the precise articulation of British folksinging and trace the idiosyncratic melodic shapes of early Joni Mitchell. It's easy to balk at the earnestness in lyrics like "Looking for a window into your soul / If and when I find it, will the blinds be closed?" but her voice conveys the requisite sincerity and wisdom. After a brief stint on Columbia Records that resulted in one album, The Golden State (2002), she's back on a small indie; three songs are solo acoustic, as on her first three albums, but on most coproducer Brent Rademaker (of Beachwood Sparks) uses a full band setting with occasional horns and strings; he even gives a pop-reggae lilt to "Casa Nova." Lesser Birds of Paradise and Static Films open. Thu 2/24, 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499, $8 in advance, $10 at the door.

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