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Mitchell’s songwriting intuition has benefitted from a widely travelled CV through both playing live and her own excursions, and this exploration has profoundly altered her perspective; both from where she came from and who she is. Closer to home comes album opener The Boys, narrating the literal experience of a typical summers day driving around Sydney with a group of male friends mourning the death of one of their dads, warm vocals ambling over a bed of skittering percussion. The track was added to the playlist of Australia’s highly influential Triple J national radio station, and ‘boysing’ – lip-synching to the song while laying on one’s front! - has become something of a viral phenomenon down under.
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Though Warriors is her third album, Mitchell’s adolescence is still recent history. At just 26, the musician has built a catalogue to rival elders. Mitchell’s debut EP was released when she was just 17, her second at 18; both accomplished folk pieces harbouring pop ambitions. Her full-length debut, Wonder, delivered on their promise, reaching No. 6 in Australia and going Platinum. Its follow-up, Bless This Mess, introduced a wider sonic scope, tethering lush piano-driven pop to jangly, rock flourishes.
While acoustic guitar remains Mitchell’s primary songwriting tool, for her third album she decided to shake things up. “We really got rid of a lot of guitar and piano in this album,” says Mitchell. The “we” she refers to is US producer Eric J Dubowsky (Chet Faker, Flume, The Rubens), who until Warriors had never worked with Mitchell. “I was interested in someone doing a different thing than what I’d done in the past,” she says. “That felt refreshing.”
Opening track ‘The Boys’ details a sunny day Mitchell drove around Sydney in a car of male friends all mourning the passing of a mates’ dad. Over a bed of skittering percussion and a loping amble, the song is a literal account of the collective bonhomie in a coded situation. Setting up in Sydney’s Hercules Street Studios in Surry Hills, Eric J roped in drummer Matt Johnson (Jeff Buckley, St. Vincent), bassist Rob Calder (Angus & Julia Stone/Passenger), and regular guitarist and collaborator, Tim Harvey (who also co-wrote with Mitchell in pre-production) for this song.
“Growing up in the country, I have a real respect for it and also a need to connect,” says Mitchell. “I think from that, when I travel I feel like I’m trying to find my people.” The heart of the songs that make up Warrior, her third album, bear an attempt to document those connections. Eric J calls it nostalgia: “remembering youth, love, distant places, and dreams.” Mitchell calls it the rites of personal passage.