When the indisputably cute Mitchell was cast off Idol in sixth place, there was a sigh of relief rather than disappointment. One listen to Wonder and you’d be hard-pressed to envisage Mitchell belling out Angels Brought Me Here or similar post-Idol fare. Instead, Mitchell has collaborated with the likes of Ben Kweller, Katy Steele, Ben Lee and Clare Bowditch to create one of the most exciting debuts of 2009.
So far, Mitchell has excelled in her choice of singles. Having placed 12th on my Top 75 Songs of 2008 list, Neapolitan Dreams is immediate with its chiming, cutesy lyrics and catchy “ba da ba da da da das.”. The inventive and hopelessly romantic Coin Laundry shines with its mix of whimsical vocals, gorgeous piano melody and (bizarrely) beat boxing. Red Wine Lips is already garnering warranted attention on Triple J, aided by its calypso xylophones and schoolyard whistling.
Influence wise, it’s a mixed bag. Mitchell channels Cat Power on Love Letter and Reef’s classic Place Your Hands on the honest Sidekick, “Even the bravest lions, they need a sidekick…Even the tallest kings, they need a sidekick.” Neapolitan Dreams closely echoes Feist’s equally stellar 1234, while So Jealous’ acoustic melody could be lifted from Ben Harper’s Fight For Your Mind. The album on the whole will also hit a note with fans of Rachel Yamagata’s folk/pop stylings.
Wonder’s achievement, thanks to endowed song-writing, lies in its ability to be both instantly familiar and utterly unique. Fans of Cat Power’s The Greatest, Feist’s The Reminder or Rachel Yamagata’s Happenstance will enthusiastically embrace Mitchell’s folk styling and instinctive ability to narrate.
Key Tracks: Neapolitan Dreams, Coin Laundry, Sidekick