Mia Joy has had music in her bones her entire life. Raised in a spiritual home to Musician and Poet parents, Mia has been singing since she was a baby and joined the Chicago Children’s Choir at a young age. Mia’s brand of ethereal pop is equally indebted to 90s R&B Icons such as Sade to the ethereal ambient compositions of Grouper. “I bought my loop pedal because it’s the same loop pedal that Liz Harris of Grouper had. I just spent my college check on it.” Spirit Tamer, Mia’s debut record out on Fire Talk on April 30th 2021, draws influences from both: emotive synth pop (“Haha”, “See Us”) and yearning meditative interludes that trace the peripheral edges between tracks. The album title comes from a poem Joy wrote long ago (“writing was my first love”), and the melding of her creative upbringing interweaves a sonic history that unfolds as Joy herself attempts to piece together the fractured pieces that shape growing up and growing into your own skin.

The artwork for lead single “Haha” prominently features a sword, and Joy explains that “the sword and my body is just a shield of protection. Spirit Tamer and the sword are a whole metaphor for protecting yourself and shielding yourself from outside forces.” Although it may take repeated listens to unpeel all the intricate layers that form an atmospheric spell around Joy’s music, her clear willingness to be vulnerable still strikingly shines through. She’s an avid practitioner of astrology (her first EP was the aptly titled ‘Gemini Moon’), and the instinctual tread of devotional harmonies and melancholic undertones transcribe the tender feeling that comes with believing in your own intuition through it all. There’s a deliberate juxtaposition in light and dark, and throughout the waxing and waning textures that shift like the periods of the moon, there remains a call for strength and reckoning throughout the passage of time. For the first time, Joy is inviting you inside her own universe, a call with intent that carries its own weight. The last track on Spirit Tamer is a cover of Arthur Russell’s “Our Last Night Together”, a bare-bones , piano-led hymn that’s a fitting soundtrack to the end of a long evening, and the journey yet to come. It’s music that holds a candle to whatever needs to heal, twelve tracks that are most precious in their intimacy, the sound of the light coming in.