Andrea Tomasi, 'Into the Mystery' | Album Review | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Music » Album Review

Andrea Tomasi, 'Into the Mystery'

By

Andrea Tomasi, Into the Mystery - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Andrea Tomasi, Into the Mystery

(self-released, digital)

Put on your headphones and enter the ether. With echoing whispers, chants and harmonies, Andrea Tomasi's new album, Into the Mystery, drops listeners into mindfulness. The experience — at times like walking in the woods or watching ocean waves — is meditative, mellow and a reminder that a powerful voice is an interesting instrument.

On her website, Tomasi, a native Vermonter and Montpelier resident, calls herself "an embodiment-lover, a presence-cultivator ... a frequency and resonance explorer." She calls singing an "expression of profound embodiment" that puts her in the "'now' of each moment." In-the-moment presence is a recurring theme throughout Into the Mystery, which draws on folk, new-age, ambient and traditional Celtic music.

Tomasi wrote her debut 2013 album Hurricane Dream in New York City and made it at Team Love Records in New Paltz, N.Y. Into the Mystery was a yearlong project that she wrote and recorded in a cramped Portland, Ore., bedroom. She aimed to offer "a source of healing for the world," according to her Bandcamp page, and drew inspiration from poets such as Wendell Berry and Rumi.

Though she wrote Into the Mystery while on America's West Coast, the Green Mountain influence is strong: Tomasi credits fellow folk musicians Abigail Nessen Bengson and Moira Smiley as mentors.

Mindfulness teachers will tell you that conscious breathing centers souls and calms nerves. Tomasi, a trained yoga instructor, often audibly inhales to prepare to sing a note and audibly exhales as she sings it. She seems to invite the listener to breathe along with her.

In "The Peace of the Wild Things," Tomasi sings the lyrics of Berry's poem of the same name; her delivery amplifies his sentiment that curative peace can come from nature. As she sings about awakening unsettled in the night at the start of the song, her pitch rises, relaying anxiety. By the time she sings the final line about resting in grace, her voice has lowered to a hush, as if she has sighed with relief.

The sound of chirping birds infuses "Visible Breath," whose lyrics are from the Oglala Sioux Nation myth of the White Bison Spirit Woman, according to Tomasi's Bandcamp page. "With visible breath I am walking / A voice I am sending as I walk / In a sacred manner, I am walking," she sings. Simon Jermyn's picked guitar notes join the avian chorus as Tomasi, between the poem's stanzas, raises and lowers her vocal register, chanting "whoas" and "ohs" like a mantra.

Although some critics have heard echoes of Joni Mitchell and Buffy Sainte-Marie in Tomasi's voice, her sweet vocal clarity invoked thoughts of Feist's The Reminder, and her vaguely Delores O'Riordan diction, of the Cranberries.

Any track on Into the Mystery sounds Celtic enough to play on NPR's "The Thistle & Shamrock" or WGBH Boston's "A Celtic Sojourn." Program directors, are you listening?

Into the Mystery is available on andreatomasi.bandcamp.com.