“I’ve always been a proponent of not making the same record twice,” Holly Miranda says. “Some people find a niche and go with that, but I need to try something different every time.”
That’s more than apparent on Mutual Horse, Miranda’s third release for Dangerbird Records, out Feb 23rd, 2018. The album, Miranda’s fourth full-length solo release, is more than just an artistic step forward, it’s a whole new way for her to make music. “This really is the most collaborative record I’ve ever done,” she says. “It’s first time I’ve shared so much of the writing and the production, the meat and bones of making an album.”
Her collaborators on Mutual Horse include Ambrosia Parsley (Shivaree), Shara Nova (My Brightest Diamond), Josh Werner (Dr. John, Lee Scratch Perry), Jared Samuel (Yoko Ono), Jim Kirby Fairchild (Grandaddy, Modest Mouse), Kyp Malone (TV On the Radio), Maria Eisen (Underground System), and Matthew Morgan (Built to Spill, Modest Mouse) among others. “This time around, I opened myself to collaborating,” Miranda says, “which made me really vulnerable.” It also made for a truly exceptional collection of songs.
This record finds Holly bridging the gap between 2010’s experimental synth laden release The Magician’s Private Library and 2015’s stripped-back, soulful self-titled record. Miranda takes an honest and intimate approach, while maintaining her sense of humor and sonic explorations. The tracks run the gamut from the sultry, driving “On the Radio,” to a cover of Crazy Horse’s “When Your Lonely Heart Breaks,” and the delicate “Sing Like,” inspired by Miranda’s late mother.
The album was recorded in Los Angeles, where Miranda and her collaborators laid down the beginnings of 23 songs before returning to her home base of New York City to finish the songs that would end up on the album. The L.A. Dangerbird studio also inspired the album’s title. “Mutual Horse comes from this image that was hanging in our studio in L.A. It was a photo of the singer-songwriter Cris Williamson—we did a cover of her song ‘Midnight Oil’ that came out last year—and I had become a big fan,” Miranda explains. “We printed out photos of her from the 1970s and taped them up around the studio; that was our vibe.” One of those photos was of Williamson and another woman holding the reigns of a horse; the two women are staring at each other, but the horse is staring at the camera. That picture was on the wall of Miranda’s studio, and eventually someone scrawled the phrase “Mutual Horse” beneath it. “It doesn’t feel like just mine,” Miranda says of the album, which took its name from the grafitti. “It feels like it belongs to everybody who worked on it.”
Miranda grew up between Detroit and Nashville, two music towns that would influence her own journey in a very profound way. She began playing piano at the age of six, taught her self-guitar at 14 and moved to New York at 16 to start her professional career. For nearly 20 years, she’s been performing, writing and producing with some of the best talent in the business. She has performed with the likes of Karen O, Lou Reed, The XX, and Lesley Gore. She released two records with her band The Jealous Girlfriends and has co-written and produced a mass of other projects. Make sure to catch her live on tour in the U.S. and Europe in 2018.