Mipso stepped onto a new plane of confidence after eight years together. “Being in a band as we have, it’s sort of been this long conversation among all of us,” explains Joseph Terrell, guitarist and vocalist for the band. He and bandmates Libby Rodenbough, fiddle, Jacob Sharp, mandolin, and Wood Robinson, bass, all sing and write, too. “Each time we get together for a new album, we catch one another up on our lives and things in music we’re excited about, and it becomes this weaving together of how all our personalities and musical voices intertwine.”
“We’ve always been a fan of very tight arrangements and compact songs, because we’re all interested in the craft of songwriting,” Libby adds. “But on the last album, [“Edges Run”], we started to let the songs breathe a little more, made them a little more playful.”
Released Oct. 16, “Mipso” embraces this direction fully, with sprawling sounds that balance layered vocal and electronic elements. The self-titled release is the band’s sixth full-length album, but the first with Nashville-based Rounder Records. “We’ve been lucky with Rounder,” Libby says. “They have been so nonintrusive on the creative process, and no one has put pressure on us of any kind.”
The album was recorded at Echo Mountain studio in Asheville in spring 2019, then demoed at Rock Quarry Farm and overdubbed at The Rubber Room, both in Chapel Hill. Joseph says recording in North Carolina is a critical part of the experience. “So much of my memory of making [‘Mipso’] and the energy that imbues these songs came from the place where we were and where we grew up, and the place that’s been home for so long,” he says. “We would go outside to listen to the cicadas and the rainstorms on the roof. It’s great to be older, to lean into this place that we’re from and tell [its] story, because this is the home we have and the story we can tell best.
“Thankfully we started rehearsing and arranging before the pandemic, so we could plan in person and take our time,” Joseph says. When the time came to mix and master the recordings, COVID-19 was in full swing in the United States. Ultimately, the band’s close-knit relationship enabled them to complete the work remotely without too much disruption. “When you’re all in the room together, you can read one another’s body signals, and your own opinions gravitate toward one another in a cool way,” Libby explains. “But when you listen to them independently, you hear things you never would have either. Being [at] home, my boyfriend listened, too, and heard things I didn’t notice. So we widened that listening net.”
“So many people who believed in us and wanted to help this album … become [its] best possible version, including Mark Goodell, our longtime engineer, and Shane Leonard, who plays drums on several tracks, helped us a lot,” Joseph says. “We’ve gotten more confident within ourselves and also with one another, and [have] been able to relax into ourselves and our history of playing together.”
“It is almost akin to aging,” Libby says. “As you continue to make music together and get to know yourselves and your instrument, you just are less concerned about things you might have been worried about earlier on. Hopefully that process will continue evolving forever.”