Anna Mieke: Theatre review – the Irish singer-songwriter’s spellbinding follow-up

It’s often joked that hearing about other people’s dreams is boring. While the scattered poetics of Anna Mieke’s lyrics are indeed dreamlike, the mesmeric artistry of her second album, Theatre, means that Mieke’s images, her sense memories, start to feel like your own: from “trees evergreen blinking in the car lights” to “plastic flowers cast across the Tarmac”. In part, it’s the power of the words themselves (one imagines Mieke’s notebook crammed with scribbled gems). But it’s also the music: rippling Spanish guitar fingerpicking and swirling melodies; delicate piano notes and flickers of clarinet.

Born in Wicklow, Ireland, Mieke spent part of her childhood in New Zealand, later moving to Bulgaria, Bangladesh, Switzerland and Spain, and her songs teem with motifs from her travels. Go Away from My Window is one highlight among many; a salty heartbreak ballad where her river-clear voice dips in and out of classical Indian phrasing. When memories are mined, there’s often a mixture of nostalgia and loss – we can never be fully back in the moment – and Mieke’s songs are coloured by this. “Nothing’s ever meant to stay the same,” she sings on Mannequin, a sigh rather than a lament.