Updated: Jun 30, 2022
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of having your own music blog is simply the connections that you make. Those connections tell their own stories. Since starting this blog, I have had bands and artists from around the country reach out to me for myriad reasons. Some are looking to tour and want to know which local Columbus bands they should connect with to plan a show that will draw a crowd. Others want to know which venues in Ohio best cater to their vibe or sound. Occasionally some are brave enough to ask me to review their music.
Not too long ago, I reviewed the newest EP from a band out of New York City called Moonwater. While working on their write-up, I received an email from one of their acquaintances, a solo artist named Mistine. She wanted to inquire about me reviewing her latest EP: Fade. I was reluctant to say “yes.” Despite having nearly 20 percent of my readership based in New York or Los Angeles, my write-ups for out-of-state acts have not performed nearly as well on the site as my local reviews. However, my gut overruled my head on this matter. I don’t know if it is because Mistine is a female musician. Maybe it was because her music encapsulates some forlorn nostalgia of a summer spent on the coast. Maybe I just wanted to cover some music that sounded radically different than the brash, in-your-face music being produced in the Midwest.
I have to admit, I have dragged my heels on this review a little. Initially, I was struggling with how to articulate the magic of Mistine’s artistry in a way that doesn’t feel superficial but is still succinct. I have started this write-up in a couple different ways and have racked my brain trying to find a point of reference to use as a jumping-off point to describe this artist’s sound. The issue is that Mistine, as a female artist, has plenty of noteworthy and/or incredibly famous contemporaries, but none of which serve as an adequate point of comparison.
It took me an embarrassing amount of time to identify what made Mistene’s music special. Perhaps, it is because her sound so starkly reflects how different the music scene is outside of the Midwest. However, I would argue that the explanation is far more profound. As many of you know, my niche scene is punk. Still, within punk music, you can see an interesting phenomenon that is observable within most genres of American music outside of maybe male country artists. It’s the east coast and west coast phenomenon.
Regardless of their regional origins, most artists eventually become affiliated with either one coastal camp or the other. However, Mistene, even before she was an up-and-coming solo artist, was practically a native to both coasts, which I think is reflected in her multidimensional sound. Perhaps her artistic amalgamation of regional sounds or even her appearance is what summons the urge to compare her to Taylor Swift. If you look at Swift’s evolution as an artist, you can see how her brand and signature sound originally evolved within the Nashville scene. Later in her career, Swift would incorporate the artistic stylings of some of the best producers in both LA and NYC.
Still, this comparison feels incredibly superficial and shallow. Yet, we will utilize it a little while longer because it will lead somewhere, I promise. Swift’s lyrics leave very little room for interpterion. Because she is such a prolific writer who utilizes immersively detailed narratives, her audience often knows what, or more often, who inspired each song.
Despite the application of synthesizing effects on the instrumentals, Mistine’s music still resonates with a subtle yet earthy, folk-like undertone which can be attributed, at least in part, to her more emotionally atmospheric lyrical stylings. That atmospheric quality focuses on capturing a feeling rather than telling a story. This focus is prevalent in music created by masculine-of-center artists. However, it isn’t nearly as ubiquitous among modern female artists, at least within the sphere of mainstream influence. Our modern culture of celebrity influencers profits on drama and women blurring the boundaries between their professional and personal lives, which were much more private before the internet era and the 24-hour news cycle.
It wasn’t until I started writing this particular draft that I realized how to best describe Mistine. Still, I will need you to trust me and listen for it because once you hear it, you can’t un-hear it. I struggled to find an artist that would make an adequate comparison to Mistine because I was initially looking in the wrong decade. However, if we revisit the 60s and 70s, we can find a very influential artist who would serve as an adequate comparison.
Mistine, both vocally and lyrically, is best described as a young, modern millennial version of Joni Mitchell. Now, if your ear is more musically tuned, like my husband’s, you’ll think that this is off-base. Musically they sound incredibly dissimilar. It’s almost as if they are separated by five decades of cultural change and technological advancements within the music industry. Mitchell’s musical compositions feature a folkier, stripped-down sound of her era. On the other hand, Mistine’s music seems to be heavily inspired by the flashier stylings of 80s pop, which is experiencing a dramatic revival.
But I challenge you to listen to Coyote by Joni Mitchell before listening to Everett Park by Mistine. Both songs are about fleeting romances that may have ended but changed the singer for the better. Both also feature an atmospheric quality in depicting scenes uninhibited by our conscious need for narrative. That quality is how both bittersweet songs can exist outside of a specific timeline of events while still evoking romantic nostalgia.
While interviewing Mistine, she expressed the desire to have her music featured in art films and cinematic features, which I feel would be a natural evolution for her. Mistine’s music isn’t just emotionally atmospheric; it also serves as a snapshot of our generational consciousness and attitudes. Everett Park is about still loving a place you frequented with a former lover. Just Fade was inspired by the realization that quarantine made it easy to see which relationships were one-sided or the product of convenience and not a mutual investment. Temporary Feeling is about allowing yourself to be swept up in a romance that you know won’t be long-term and being okay with that outcome. While Don’t Come Back recalls the mixed emotions that come in waves after terminating an intensely passionate relationship that didn’t align with your personal goals.
Ultimately, Mistine’s newest EP can only be described as bittersweet. However, it is far more sweet than bitter. It’s upbeat enough to dance to and meaningful enough to be cathartic when reflecting on a missed connection or a transformative but fleeting romance. The world is filled with cathartic songs about lovers who broke our hearts or traumatized us. Still, there simply aren’t enough songs celebrating the lovers that left us unharmed, or even better off, after briefly being in our orbit.
Fade is paradoxical by its intended nature. Its tracks are melancholic yet uplifting and, at times, even fun. Mistine has proven that she has the potential to be an empowering next-generation music icon. Her music reflects a growing generational consciousness that encourages us to reevaluate how we view relationships with a healthier lens. You would be remised for not adding her tracks to your girl’s night-out playlist.
Until next time, stay safe out there and be kind to yourself.
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