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Mitski fully leans into American folk music on “The Land is Inhospitable and So Are We” 

WFUV Public Radio | Flickr

A year and a half after the release of “Laurel Hell”, singer-songwriter Mitski Miyawaki released her seventh studio album “The Land is Inhospitable and So Are We” on Sept. 15. The album spans 30 minutes and its 11 tracks are packed with raw emotion.

Featuring acoustic guitar and a 17-person choir and orchestra, the album has an overall American folk feel to it. Mitski called it her “most American album” yet. It is different from the synth-pop and indie rock style of her previous albums, but it’s not unfamiliar territory for Mitski, who has previously taken inspiration from folk music. 

As usual, Mitski’s music explores themes of family, loneliness and love. The album opens with the song “Bug Like an Angel”, which starts with Mitski’s soft vocals, a guitar strum and later contains a sudden chorus singing “Family”. Lyrically, it tells a story of alcoholism, addiction and guilt.

On another track, “I Don’t Like My Mind”, Mitski sings “And then I get sick and throw up and there’s another memory that gets stuck / Inside the walls of my skull waiting for its turn to talk,” alluding to her indulgence and need for escapism from her thoughts.

Mitski gave a personal explanation to the song “My Love Mine All Mine” in a  . “To love is the best thing I ever did in my life, better than any song I’ve ever written, better than any achievement by far,” she said. “I wanted to write a song about how I wish that when I die, I could at least leave all this love behind in the world.”

The rural landscape of “The Land is Inhospitable and So Are We” touches on the artist’s growth since the start of her career along with her transition from her 20s to her 30s.

Before her days in the limelight, Mitski was briefly a film student at Hunter College before transferring to SUNY Purchase College to study music. While at SUNY Purchase, Mitski met Patrick Hyland, who helped Mitski produce her albums. During that time, she released her first three albums “Lush”, “Retired from Sad, New Career in Business” and “Bury Me at Makeout Creek”. 

Mitski maintained an underground fanbase in the early 2010s, but later found massive success after the release of “Puberty 2” in 2016 and “Be the Cowboy” in 2018. As she grew more mainstream, she struggled to deal with the pressure of fame and having an overwhelming fanbase. 

“Everyone needed a piece of me, whether it was a photo, or my autograph,” she said in a 2022 interview with The Guardian.“I was so overwhelmed being surrounded by hands grabbing at me that I was crying, but they still didn’t seem to see my crying face.”

In 2019, Mitski announced an indefinite hiatus from music but revoked this decision a year later. She turned 30 and moved to Nashville in the midst of the pandemic to get away from the bustle of New York in 2020.

Mitski’s time away from big crowds reflects the pastoral feel of “The Land is Inhospitable and So Are We”. Her lyrics remain authentic and down-to-earth, the driving factor behind a good album.

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