“Dare turn and face me”: Melbourne’s Mia Dyson Wears Her ‘Tender Heart’ on Her Sleeve in a Radiant Record of Life, Love, & Human Connection

Mia Dyson © Brendan Willing James
Mia Dyson © Brendan Willing James
Melbourne-based singer/songwriter Mia Dyson channels her near-death experience into life-affirming music on ‘Tender Heart,’ an intimate, soul-stirring record that shines with a beautiful inner light.
Stream: “Dare” – Mia Dyson




Thank you. I love you. Forgive me. I forgive you…

It’s one of music’s many magical qualities that out of darkness and pain, we can create moments of beauty, wonder, and awe.

That’s what drives us to songs in our hardest times: They can help heal those invisible wounds on our minds and souls. And even if they alleviate the pain, and take us away from what we’re going through for just a few minutes, then that, too, makes it all worthwhile.

The same holds true for songwriters making music: While some songs are certainly crafted for fun and entertainment purposes, many others are born out of a visceral, intrinsic need to unpack life’s more challenging moments and complex emotions; to scratch some lingering itch that talking or thinking through can’t alleviate on their own.

And while Australian artit Mia Dyson didn’t set out with a particular goal, message, or mission in mind, her latest album is undeniably one of life, love, and human connection. The singer/songwriter channels a near-death experience into life-affirming music on Tender Heart, an intimate, soul-stirring record that shines with a beautiful inner light.

Tender Heart - Mia Dyson
Tender Heart – Mia Dyson
the ground beneath my feet will always be shaking
the blood under my skin will always be racing
the centre of my body will always be aching
the death inside of me will always be waiting
dare turn and face me
where i’ll be waiting
yeah come and make me, dare
I never thought I’d meet you in a place like this
heard you call me here from empty space
holding me to feel the thing in my chest
everything before is gone with no trace
– “Dare,” Mia Dyson

Independently released February 23, 2024, Tender Heart is true to its name in every way. Mia Dyson’s seventh studio album finds the ARIA award winning artist dwelling gracefully in the deep end of our shared human experience, reflecting on what it means to be alive, to be present, to be connected with others, to love and be loved, and to soak up all that this world has to offer us. Six long, life-changing years after her last album If I Said Only So Far I Take It Back, the ten-track Tender Heart presents Dyson at her most candid, cathartic, and vulnerable.

Mia Dyson © Anita Coats
Mia Dyson © Anita Coats

“My husband and I were writing the songs for this record during the pandemic and one night an earthquake precipitated an undiagnosed heart arrhythmia which nearly killed me,” Dyson tells Atwood Magazine. “When Karl turned the light on he found me slumped and not responding. My breathing and heart had stopped. He managed to resuscitate me and call paramedics who took me to hospital. The doctors diagnosed me with Long QT syndrome and implanted a defibrillator in my chest which will shock me if my heart does that again.”

“This huge experience deeply influenced the making of the record. ‘Dare,’ which was written before the event, seems almost to have been a premonition of it. ‘Thank You,’ written soon after, is contemplating the loss of each other that nearly happened that night. ‘Golden Light’ is a love song speaking to the deepening of our bond through this experience.”

“I’m singing more naturally. And, I was able to cherish the time in the studio with my band like never before, I felt the gravity of the fact that it could easily not have happened. We took time with it. We shared the experience and the load. How grateful I feel to have more time on Earth and with my dear friends and collaborators, Syd Sidney on drums, Daniel Wright on bass and background vocals, Lee Pardini on keys and Scott Hirsch on the production, engineering, mixing and extra guitars.”

Mia Dyson © Anita Coats
Mia Dyson © Anita Coats



I think it captures me singing and sharing a truer self. It’s more subtle and gentle than any of my previous records. More vulnerable too.

Working hand in hand with her husband Karl Linder, Dyson offers a powerful look at her innermost self; in turn, her songs implore and inspire us to dive deeper into ourselves as well – to consider our place on this big blue marble, to ask ourselves difficult questions like how we’re living, and if we’re living well.

“The vision was to let the songs lead and not try to force them to be any particular way,” she explains. “Me and the band and the producer all shared this vision and tried our best not to grip too tightly to any ideas. I think we did a pretty good job of that, and many experiments and side paths brought us to some wonderful moments on the record, that would not have existed had we been sure we knew how it should sound.”

Dyson candidly describes Tender Heart as “my insides out.”

“My dear friend and band mate Syd, who plays drums, declared early on that this record must be called Tender Heart, which is the opening line of one of the songs,” she smiles. “He had watched me slowly grow more open-hearted over the years and then quite suddenly with the near-death experience. No other title made sense.”




From end to end, Tender Heart is a powerful testament – and a reminder – to the only way we should ever be living our lives: To the fullest.

And it all starts with the dramatic, dynamic thesis in “Dare,” a spirited, driving folk rock song that, miraculously, pre-dates Dyson’s near-death experience. “The ground beneath my feet will always be shaking… the blood under my skin will always be racing,” Dyson sings, her voice a beacon of raw, heated passion in a pool of dusty, golden guitars and drums. “The center of my body will always be aching… the death inside of me will always be waiting.”

These poignant truths could, in another context, send shivers down the spine, but on Tender Heart, they are a welcome base; a reminder that life is ephemeral and fleeting – so how do you live? What do you do with that knowledge, that it could all end in a moment’s notice? Dyson’s performance is utterly enchanting – comforting, even – and as she stares down toward the end, we feel all the more inspired to take advantage of the here and now.

the ground beneath my feet has always been shaking
the blood inside my skin has always been racing
the centre of my body has always been aching
the death inside of me has always been waiting
Mia Dyson © Anita Coats
Mia Dyson © Anita Coats

With this as the starting point, the following songs feel like one warm embrace after another.

Highlights include the gorgeously gritty “Ragged Friend,” the sweet, harmony-rich “These Words,” and the achingly intimate, open-hearted “Thank You.” Dyson’s smoky, smoldering voice shines with stunning strength on the bluesy rocker “Sunny Hills,” and she lifts our spirits to high heights on songs like “Come to Me” and “Dragging Me Down.”

The breathtakingly beautiful “Thank You” is especially heartfelt and meaningful, carrying with it the profound weight of one soul singing about their loved one’s passing, and those final words they would want to share with them before the lights go out. After all, one of us must eventually be the one to say goodbye, though no one ever wants to think about it; is it possible to be prepared for such a painful end, even if it is inevitable?

I hope we are together
in our last moments of life
and that we believe
we are about to die
and there will be time
to look you in the eyes
everything goes quiet
i’m telling you
thank you, I love you
forgive me, I forgive you
but you might have to leave me
be first into that light
or I might have to leave you
if it’s my time
and one of us stays
in the world a while
either way, i’ll be saying
thank you, I love you
forgive me, I forgive you




“The song ‘Thank You’ has emerged as a favorite, or more accurately as one of the most meaningful songs I’ve ever been a part of creating,” Dyson says. “‘Come to Me’ is also a favorite, with the rich textural soundscape of that song being something I’ve never before achieved on record.” She further cites lyrics from “Come to Me” as her favorite lines on the album:

come to me commanding
or come to me in shame
come to me forgiven
I can’t help but share your name
show me down the hall and
through the open door
be my ever aching heart
I’d still like a little more

“This started as a poem that my husband wrote and we together turned into a song,” she explains. “This third verse feels so good to sing. I feel like song lyrics shouldn’t be separated from their melodies. The melodies are what convey so much of the meaning and emotion of the words.”




Mia Dyson © Brendan Willing James
Mia Dyson © Brendan Willing James

Wherever you press play on Tender Heart, Mia Dyson is sure to pour gold into your heart.

Out of the darkness of this near-depth experience came a search for renewed life – a journey that led Dyson to the most vulnerable, uplifting, and life-affirming set of songs she’s ever made. Truly, this record is a celebration of everything human – and a reminder to be as present as we can in our fleeting lives. Dare, turn and face me.

“I hope listeners take courage and solace from Tender Heart,” Dyson shares. “Creating it was a joy and a deeply collaborative experience with my band and my husband. Putting it out is challenging, because of how vulnerable the record feels.”

Experience the full record via our below stream, and peek inside Mia Dyson’s Tender Heart with Atwood Magazine as she takes us track-by-track through the music and lyrics of her latest album!

— —

:: stream/purchase Tender Heart here ::
:: connect with Mia Dyson here ::
Stream: ‘Tender Heart’ – Mia Dyson



:: Inside Tender Heart ::

Tender Heart - Mia Dyson

— —

Dare

This song was written before my near-death experience and seems to be a spooky kind of premonition of the earthquake and close brush with death. Songwriting is so mysterious! I have written many songs that didn’t necessarily make sense at the time of writing but nevertheless felt right. In time, they revealed themselves to be elucidating something that I hadn’t understood when writing them.

Ragged Friend

This song is sung both to a friend, who is struggling, maybe with depression or the perception of the weight of the world; and to myself. I need the reminder, just as much as my friend might, that there is indescribable beauty and joy in this world… when I look for it. Jack Gilbert says it achingly in A Brief For The Defence – ‘We must admit there will be music despite everything’

Dragging Me Down

I have encountered depression throughout my life and it’s easy to add to the distress with blaming myself for not feeling good. It’s baffling to be in a battle with one’s self. Surely I can pull myself out of it?! But it’s not in my control and, somehow, acceptance of this fact is the path through. Expression can help give me a meta view and alleviate the paralysis.
While I often wish I could blame outside forces for my troubles (and indeed often do), I’ve found that my peace is an inside job. That knowledge is both a relief and a challenge.

Golden Light

However silly it sounds to try and use words to describe what is a beyond-words experience, I will try. There was one moment when I sat across from my Karl, and felt golden light pour out of him and into me. I don’t understand this. We weren’t on drugs. Perhaps it’s a wonderful symptom of the intensification of our connection that happened when I almost left this world and we got the chance to spend more time on earth together.

Sunny Hills

Hatred and cynicism are easy. Love is difficult. It is the more rebellious and radical thing to do and to practice – to love people I don’t like or don’t agree with. And while this song talks a lot about romantic love, that great kind of love can teach me about love for everyone.

Thank You

After a near-death experience, I sought out frank conversations and writings about death. I came across some words by Ira Byock, a palliative care doctor, expressing an idea, found in many cultures, that there are only a few things that I might need to say if I were dying or if one of my loved ones were dying:
“Thank you
I love you
Forgive me
I forgive you”
Around these ‘last words,’ Karl and I wrapped a prayer to die well, whether together or separately, contemplating being the first to go, or being left behind to continue living.

These Words

I think I heard Allen Watts say that priests and priestesses from various religious traditions immediately tend to argue with each other about words and definitions, while their monks and nuns can quietly garden, meditate and sit together for years. This song asks us to sense beyond verbal language so we can enjoy each other.

Come to Me

I want to try to take people as they are, right now. I think perhaps accepting you is a shorter route to accepting myself. Please keep being you and I’ll keep being me.

Middle Lion

The game of ‘who’s right and who’s to blame?’ or ‘where can I get mine?’ are always calling. I want to play the game of finding harmony, of loving what is, of appreciating what I already have.  The game of being here, right now; of this life I have being enough. Those other games are so easy! I can find someone or something to blame in a heartbeat. Every chance I get I want to try my hand at turning towards harmony.
This breath is enough. This is enough. Grace. With acceptance comes grace. I lose grace if i don’t extend it to everyone. making exceptions loses me grace.

Worship

I am astounded whenever I contemplate that for me to be here at all, every single one of my ancestors had to fight to survive long enough to have children who had children. (Not to mention the relatives, neighbours, and strangers who might not even have had children, but supported the line that got me here anyway.) And while that might not seem very difficult in this day, for hundreds and thousands (and millions) of years, survival was extremely precarious and so the chance that you or I would be here, incredibly slim. This astonishing knowledge gives me juice to go on creating, to honour their sacrifice and struggle.

— —

:: stream/purchase Tender Heart here ::
:: connect with Mia Dyson here ::

— — — —

Tender Heart - Mia Dyson

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Discover new music on Atwood Magazine
? © Brendan Willing James

Tender Heart

an album by Mia Dyson



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