Indie-Pop Artist Mindy Gledhill Finds Her Wonderland on New Album
We’ve all identified with Alice at some point — with the curiosity that got her in trouble, with her hunger to explore, with her awe of the world, and with the wild tumbling that changed everything she knew.
On Mindy Gledhill’s newest album, Rabbit Hole, we’re transported back into that wonderful world of wonderland and the little girl who found it. Navigating the fantasy realm and connecting it back to her own reality, the Provo-based singer-songwriter crafts a record rich with meaning — dig deep or fall hard to find it — disguised as addictive little indie-pop gems.
Raised in California and Spain to Mormon missionaries, Gledhill grew up defined by a set of devout rules and characteristics that boxed her in before she had a chance to feel for the walls. Her early work was of the religious theme, gaining a loyal following of Mormon fans who looked towards her music as a way to experience their world in new (but still appropriate) ways. The world Gledhill comes from, though, abounds with sticky issues of gender inequality and sexual harassment, a culture urging its devotees to believe solely in the tenets it demands, no matter how dangerous the religious, political, and social connotations are.
Over the last few years, Gledhill carefully made the transition out of Mormonism, leaving the church and fulfilling her identity as an ally for the causes that her childhood belief vehemently railed against. Once a Mormon artist using her magic voice as a vehicle for religious affirmation and sacred spirit, Gledhill now bursts to life with a new brand of pop-infused indie anthems, many of which have made it to the screen in commercials, collaborations, and television shows.
On Rabbit Hole, Gledhill examines the life she came from and the life she’s built in a series of dazzling Alice-inspired songs. This is a record meant to encourage personal insight and inquiry, big heart-heavy themes tucked sweetly into songs shimmering with dreamy light. Sure, the album boasts some upbeat bangers, but there are also endless instances of tender comedowns, because Gledhill needed this record. It’s not just an album; it’s an exploration, a reflection, a confession.
Rabbit Hole opens with its title track, a decadent introduction to the kind of sparkling, sincere tunes to follow. It’s nixed its pop-hungry destiny in favor of an almost theatrical, classical composition, led by an urgent piano line and Gledhill’s breathy voice. It’s impossibly lovely — it’s desperate and nervous and climbing and swollen, blooming into an emotive performance that feels more like a diary entry than an album opener. Next comes “Boo Hoo!,” an adorably up-tempo pop-rock track destined for commercial spotlight. It’s our first taste of Gledhill’s craftsmanship when it comes to nailing the “popular” recipe. She’s just so good at combining the elements of the quintessential earworm: varying layers and levels of her sweet voice, surprise explosions of jangling pop, a singalong hook. On “Wandering Souls,” a fuzzy guitar riff kicks off the track before merging with sparkling percussion, bowing back out for Gledhill’s classical vocals to deliver an impassioned verse. It’s a bittersweet track residing between the album’s first two — at first it feels forlorn but it’s driven by subtle swells of indie sunshine later on. When she matter-of-factly announces that “This is the crucible of life,” it strikes as the overarching message of this album so in tune with her own past and future.
“Bluebird” is a stripped-back gem of the record, Gledhill’s airy voice seeking falsetto notes above the gentle rolls of acoustic strums, before the arrangement expands — just a bit, nothing too wild — to accommodate steady shimmers of percussion and dreamy backing harmony. “Lines” follows, slapping with a rapid-fire drum pad beat and distant key plinks. The pacing doubles, increasing in quirky urgency, an arrangement bubbling with energy while the vocals remain at their sugary solidity. Stay tuned for the surprises in “Lines.” It’s not what it seems at the beginning, weaving in and out of high-energy newness. “One” is another tender reflection in the vein of “Bluebird.” Led by Gledhill’s aching voice threatening to break over lolloping percussion and soft guitar strums, it thrums with melancholic melody, stripped down to its bare bones, naked and vulnerable. “Cosmic Kiss” finds Gledhill delivering a bouncy love song, pulsing with steady drum beats and searing, otherworldly tones fighting beneath sweet verses.
The halfway point of Rabbit Hole comes with “The Wish,” one of those classically French-sounding lullabies, floating along on rainy shimmers and pretty swirls of wistful rhythm. “Wild Card” reverts back to the in-your-face pop romps of earlier in the album, built on robust percussion and candy-coated melodies merging for an addictive earworm-likely arrangement. On “Icarus,” Gledhill’s theatrical vocals deliver a powerful performance above a steady piano line moving throughout moments of swelling emotion until suddenly the piece gains momentum and energy with swirling, warring multi-instrumentation. “Adiós Cariño” is a sonic sweetener that finds Gledhill sharing her Spanish fluency over layers of Latin-flavored rhythms and quick beats picking up major speed.
“Old Willow Lane” is another gentle lullaby-like piece, simple in its quiet warmth and sudden plinking percussion, moving along thoughtfully with Gledhill’s lilt as its leader. Rabbit Hole ends with two acoustic versions of “Wild Card” and “Icarus,” both re-imagined with fresh eyes and ears, the former busting with hand-claps and foot-stomps, the latter a gorgeous comedown marking the hush and shadow falling like a film over the rest of the record.
Rabbit Hole is an intricate, beguiling tug-of-war between worlds, emotions, and tones. Mindy Gledhill travels seamlessly through distances — visiting both the colorful mirth of pop and the tender quietude of folk, nodding to her troubled past on her way to an improved future, tossing piano-laden compositions in the midst of percussion-fueled arrangements. The one thing uniting these great odysseys Gledhill embarks upon is her voice — a perfect, candied wisp.
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