REVIEW: MINA TINDLE – MINA TINDLE EP (2011)
It could just be me, but it seems French singer/songwriters are upping their game of late. Maybe it’s because everyone’s been doing Erasmus the past decade, breaking out of their comfort zones and spending times around off-campus parties in college towns in America soaking in the culture while realizing America and Canada have profound independent music scenes that-till the past decade-have been obscured by pop radio. Or…maybe it’s that we’re discovering their own profound scenes thanks to these little exchanges, realizing there’s a lot more to their own music than meets the ear. Nevertheless, Mina Tindle is the latest singer du jour to pop up. She’s not temporary though, having been in numerous bands prior such as City Slang’s Toy Fight, the trans-Atlantic The Limes as well as JP Nataf. Solo, she sings an indie pop with a more songwriter feel, the kind you’d hear from the lofty (and everyone sounds like…) Regina Spektor or Joanna Newsom, however far softer in tone and quality with an adorable accent to the ears. Think a less nasal Emiliana Torrini.
Her self-titled debut EP is a short, six-song pleasantry you’d expect to hear in cafés. The Parisian gives hopeful hints, leaning towards a more self-confident sound than merely taking in the advice of what’s popular at the moment. Yes, “To Carry Many Small Things” has a catchy, progressive bass line and poppy handclaps, it does have a sneaky bit of banjo hidden in there. The recording is chock-full of hidden elements, marked mostly by piano and keys. To start, it’s a definite pleasant beginning.
The rest of the EP is much more of a stripped down feel, despite still having several layers of instrumentation. “Bells” is warmly awash in percussion over soaring vocals that alternate high and low. Meanwhile, “Echo” takes a simplified, Pink Moon-esque acoustic guitar over whispered singing. Mina’s voice is the natural highlight of the EP, although multiple listens make the production a close challenger. “Henry” is the essential example as she wraps around you like a friend brightly excited to express her latest discovery. It’s that passion and vocal funness you hear. It dips down, accompanied by the lower register of the piano and a subtle timpani before layers just come in to cover the middle and higher range like a miniature marching band.
We’ll see what happens with the full length. “Plein Nord” is a demo on the EP that really takes away all embellishments, in French. I’d rather hear more songs from her in French than in English, not because of her accent but because, like anything, things are better in their original versions. It’s a crowded field out there for female singer/songwriters who edge towards folk, but embrace indie pop. Mina could go far if she embraces this little nuance and continue along that route. She’s easily got the voice for it.