Ari & Mia Return with 'Sew the City': Exclusive Album Premiere

Kat Waterman
Ari & Mia

Their new album may be called Sew The City, but Ariel and Mia Friedman, aka Ari & Mia, actually escaped the city to make their fifth release, due March 1 and premiering exclusively below.

The sister string players left their usual base of Boston, where Ari still resides, and headed to rural Maine, where they recorded the 10-song chamber folk set at the Great North Sound Society in a converted farmhouse in Parsonfield. "A lot of our friends had recorded there, and it's this beautiful, isolated place where we really got to focus only on the album," Mia tells Billboard. "In the past in Boston it was like our lives kept going while we were recording. Out there, our lives kind of stopped."

Ari says the bucolic location afforded the duo "a wonderful amount of space, both physically and emotionally. We spent all day going back and forth between recording and cooking. One of the songs, 'Unquiet Grave,' we recorded late at night and it was raining outside. There was a lot of connection to the place that enabled us to feel into each song more deeply."

Sew The City also finds Ari & Mia delving more deeply into their ancestry. "The big theme of the album is an homage to women ancestors in our lives, and to heroes in general," Ari says. The album includes songs written about the sisters' grandmothers, "If I Die" and the title track, which was written back in 2010. "Roll Away" was inspired by the kitchen in Mia's home that was built by her husband's grandparents during the 1940s. The duo also covers Joni Mitchell’s "The Fiddle and the Drum,” as a response to the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

As to whether this focus on strong women is a product of the times, Ari says, "I don't think it was conscious, but I think it was such a big time in this country and in the world that it's kind of coming out in a lot of different ways. We were writing these songs over a period of years. The fact they culminated on this album wasn't necessarily on purpose, but it just makes so much sense that this is when the album is coming out."

Ari & Mia's horizon is complicated a bit by the arrival of Ari's son three months ago. Nevertheless the duo will start a two-week house concert tour on March 3 in the Canadian Maritimes, with the baby in town, with weekend dates booked in April and May. "We're definitely touring this album," Mia says. "These are songs we really want to share with people."