Sometimes it takes an outsider's perspective to offer a fuller view on any situation, and that's certainly the case with Miwa Gemini. A native of Japan's southern Fukuoka region, she's been a New York City resident for several years now. She finds common ground in several American styles of music, and her new album This Is How I Found You, touches on 1920s torch songs, '40s-era jazz, vintage country, and uncluttered singer/songwriter fare.
Gemini's tunes are decidedly lovestruck and sentimental (though never maudlin), with lyrics like, "I had a few romances that would make good movies/You know the kind that would leave housewives in tears..." Gemini's vocal styles fall somewhere between the passion of Nina Simone, the tenderness of Patsy Cline, and a bit of Siouxsie Sioux's affected take, all further defined by her subtly lingering, crisp Japanese accent.
Gemini spent early 2006 recording the entirety of This Is How I Found You in Athens, Ga., with studio producer Andy Baker. The Southern experience was a valuable one. Getting away from the distractions, noises, and energy of New York allowed her to focus on the tunes and develop their relaxed tone.
"It's nice to be able to get away from your daily life and completely immerse yourself with recording," she says. "Plus, I really like the peaceful and beautiful scenery of Athens, like hydrangeas and front porches. Now that I've been there a few times playing shows, I really enjoy meeting people from Athens. It's a small town, but filled with interesting creative people."
And though the songs on the new record incorporate banjo, mandolin, and piano for the first time, Miwa says she's performing solo on this brief jaunt southwards. —Chris Hassiotis
Miwa Gemini performs at The Tin Roof (1117 Magnolia Road, 843-571-0775) with Guitar Bomb on Sun. May 18 at 10 p.m. Tickets are $5 at the door. Visit www.myspace.com/westashleytinroof and www.miwagemini.com for more.