“Songwriting can hardly be more minimalistic, no-frills, more strict as Mirel
Wagner’s sparse music,” wrote German Spex magazine, quite right.
Mirel Wagner was born in Ethiopia, and grew up in peaceful conditions in Espoo, Finland.
The family name leads back to a German great-grandfather. At age 7 she was given violin
lessons, at 13 she switched to guitar and at 16 she wrote her first songs (“To The Bone”, the
album opener, is one of those early tunes) After a while she dared to join open mic events in
Helsinki. People were surprised, interested and seemed to like it.
Jean Ramsay, an American music journalist living in Finland, came across her at one of these
sessions. He was particularly convinced of her talent, raved about her in an early article and
recommended her to others. So, without producing a demo and contacting record labels, she
found herself sitting in a real recording studio. Aki Roukala, a photographer and friend of
Ramsay offered to finance these recordings and to take care that the tapes secured a
release. Over two days she recorded 12 songs straight. 9 of them can be found on her debut,
which was first released in Finland in spring 2011, and now in Europe via 22-Pistepirkko label
Bone Voyage Recordings (in North America it gonna see release through Friendly Fire Recordings,
Whether in Finland, France, Germany or now UK, journalists who’ve been listening a bit closer
are full of praise for this young, slightly different talent, who has seemingly appeared out of
the blue with her otherworldly gloomy folk…
There’s not much you can hear on this debut. It’s an “empty” record - in the best sense:
A stoicly picked, almost trance-inducing acoustic guitar, a voice you wouldn’t expect to hear
from a 23 year old and songs, which mostly avoid classical (folk) song structure (rather
“lonely prayers in expressionistic language” Spex). Everything is stripped to the bone and
maintains a beautiful, strangely fragile tension, even more so during her live performances.
“The singer is majestic in her sobriety.” a French critic wrote. “She will literally knock you
down with her candour and tenderness, captivating with her melodic charisma, wonderful and
quiet. … Music from another time, fabulous and elusive … “