Woken from death, Mia Dyson returns with new album ‘Tender Heart’

Subscribe to Forte Magazine


Woken from death, Mia Dyson returns with new album ‘Tender Heart’

Credit: Brendan Willing James
Words By Lucy Crock 

Mia Dyson had just started work on her new album Tender Heart, the night her heart stopped. She was woken by an earthquake in her Los Angeles home — then she was gone. 

Now, woken from death, the multiple ARIA and APRA award-winning artist is set to release her album on February 23, accompanied by a US and Australia tour.

Raised on the Surf Coast, Dyson has shared stages with legends like Bonnie Raitt, Stevie Nicks, Joe Cocker, Eric Clapton, and Chris Isaak, and more recently, has been hailed as one of Australia’s top 25 guitarists by the Herald Sun.  

Keep up with the latest music news, festivals, interviews and reviews here.

It was an undiagnosed heart arrhythmia, triggered during the earthquake, that stopped her breathing that night, and it was her husband’s life-saving CPR brought her back from the brink. 

In the moments suspended between death and life, she was somewhere else entirely.

“I was in this really peaceful place,” Dyson says. “I could hear Karl, my husband, really far away with this very, very calm, soft voice speaking to me.

“At first I couldn’t understand… then slowly I could understand him saying, ‘thank you for coming back to me’ over and over again.”

Her husband, Karl Linder, found Dyson hunched on the wall of their bedroom with hollow, lifeless eyes. His CPR meant Dyson made it to the hospital in just enough time to save her life, with a defibrillator implanted to prevent the event from recurring.

Returning to her album with a newfound open-hearted embrace of all that was almost lost, the result is the fittingly-titled collection of ten profound songs, Tender Heart, due out 23 February. 

“My heart was the thing that malfunctioned… and I think what came out of that is being tenderised,” Dyson says. “There’s the literal heart kind of failure and then the tenderization of the heart through something really difficult.

“It takes some luck as well, but these very difficult experiences can make us more open, more tender.

Sonically, Dyson’s record parallels her transfiguration. 

“The sound is really significant for me this time around… In my evolution, it was time for me to actually have a gentler expression and let my voice be in a natural state rather than like pushing it, pushing it, pushing it all the time.

“I really was trying to prove myself when I was younger. There’s so much angst and power and it’s loud…  I wanted it to be heard.”

In Tender Heart, the sounds are gentler, warmer and more subtle, showcasing a natural state of voice that she now embraces: “I think that really comes through in the whole production.”

Now, Dyson said she sees success as being present with her band and loved ones. 

“The measure I think of now, and success is the wrong word for it, but it’s ‘can I be in the moment on stage really connecting with people’? It’s really about the inside experience, and in my experience, it takes a lot of work to be able to be present.

“I went about making this record, and writing it, with much more of an appreciation of… how fragile life is and how at any moment it could be taken away.

“It meant that I enjoyed and appreciated spending that time with my collaborators and Karl, my husband, who co-wrote the record with me.

“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.”


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Mia Dyson (@miadyson)

Dyson said the transformation is also reflected lyrically throughout Tender Heart, the song ‘Thank You’ written to reflect on Dyson’s ideal last words to loved ones. 

“Thank you, I love you, forgive me, I forgive you.

“They’re really simple. You can say those things all the time and you don’t have to wait till people are dying.”

From talking to her tender heart and experiencing depression in ‘Dragging Me Down’, to facing death boldly in ‘Dare’, Dyson grapples with life’s fathomless questions with gentleness and nuance.  She sings, 

The centre of my body will always be aching 
The death in me will always be waiting

“‘Dare’, the opening track, I think it was somewhat of a premonition if I can be so bold as to say that. “This song is about this experience of facing death.”

But Dyson wrote the song before her near-death experience, unsure of its meaning.  “Then afterwards it was like, ‘Oh, wow. This is what this song’s about’.”

On 23 March, Dyson will bring her transformative new album to The Sound Doctor in Anglesea,  following stops in Bundalaguguah, Melbourne, Healesville, Archies Creek, and Castlemaine. 

The Anglesea show is not too far away from where she played her first-ever gig, a ball her parents threw at Modewarre Hall, opening for Diana Kiss and Ross Hannaford with Ray Charles and Jimmi Hendrix covers. This time Dyson returns with a message: “To try and distil it down, this whole record is trying to convey a feeling of, ‘It’s okay. You’re okay. We’re okay’.”

“Hold your loved ones close, and let people know how you feel about them.”

Mia Dyson Tour Dates 

  • March 8 – Bundalaguguah, VIC – Live at The Bundy
  • March 15 – Melbourne, VIC – The Corner Hotel
  • March 16 – Healesville, VIC – The Memo
  • March 17 – Archies Creek, VIC – Caravan Music Club
  • March 22 – Castlemaine, VIC – Theatre Royal
  • March 23 – Anglesea, VIC – Sound Doctor

Get your tickets here