Produced, recorded and mixed by Gavin MacKillop
Recorded at Namas Studio, Otter Point, Canada
and The Armoury Studios, Vancouver, Canada
Mixed at Master Control, Los Angeles, CA
Mastered by Stephen Marcussen at Precision Mastering, L.A.
Images of unrest and an ongoing mental/emotional wrestling match with the uncertainties of existence, populate this new offering of musical poems by Canadian folk/pop singer Mae Moore.
Confidentially, sometimes even with an insistent urgency, Moore half-whispers, half raps her sing-song lyrics into your speakers above a pleasing non-intrusive groove, sounding to me a bit like Deborah Harry, only in a jazzier setting than the snap, crackle and pop of Blondie's period new wave techo-pop.
Although she's no 'material girl', and living in the material world seems to be as much hassle as fun, Mae and producer McKillup do craft exquisite sound artifacts and it's a pleasure rather than a drain to hear her; even though she spends much of the time moaning on about stuff that is really pop fluff dressed up in more serious philisophical clothing.
The album opens with Genuine, a song about the strength of true love: "I know we can love and win / If our hearts are genuine"
Love Won't Find Us Here is a thoughtful and touching number sung to an "ex", which laments the passing of tenderness. The singer, awash on a sea of alienated disorientation tells us stuff like: "I can't tell if I'm happy / Or just relieved to be alive"
On the next track Moore says: "Life is All I Can't Explain We go up and down and round again / That's all you need to know " This song is more complex than the first two love-and-heartbreak offerings, worked around the story of "The palm reader and the easy mark".
Repitition and change is again the theme in Evolution which does not speak of evolving in a transcendent way, but how ":Love never leaves / the same way / it comes in"
Here is a song about flight more than about flying, flight into the comfort of a lover's arms.
Watermark speaks of the importance of time spent alone, but the artist returns all too quickly to the world of people only to address the endless labour of "How to make love stay" to keep it above the watermark" and again I found myself wishing that Mae would tell us more about what she discovered when meditating or 'leaving her body' or whatever, than just more lovesick scheming Musically, the singer weaves simple lyrics into an almost-uplifting hook.
Pleasure Grounds is a tad tougher in its realization, a song which says that physical love is a grind when the newness has gone
Hollow As Bone speaks of survival: "There is nothing harder / To keep alive / Than the hope inside / That we need to survive"
Still, we yearn for the singer to do more than ramble on about how dizzied she's become, and the next song, Kiss Of Life, is where Mae comes closest to doing so. Here she admits insight into what may be her personal tragic flaw: "Could it be that I've mistaken love as some cure for this aching of mine"
Finally, (I thought) a moment of realization! And although I wanted more, without this insight the lyrics on this album could be taken as mere lovesick ravings. Moore's ability to identify her penchant for using love as a cure-all, made me respect her poetry, forcing me to view the love songs which had come before this as less self-indulgent.
Faithless is a moment of painful honesty, where the singer admits she knew beforehand that a lover was going to be faithless, but went for it anyhow. The tune is powerful in that the singer lays no blame at anyone's feet, although a sense of loss, one that has pervaded most of the set, comes across strongly here.
The final cut, Fine, is a song that is uplifting in spirit and serves to tie the contradictions and confessions of the previous ten numbers together.
If you're still with me, and I can easily forgive you if you're not--this has been an overlong review--let me say something about the music that goes along with these angst-ridden, post-modern lyrics The melodies and bandtracks soothe and comfort, full of acceptance and forgiveness rather than anger and frustration. Moore's vocals ride atop some smooth grooves, created by some of Canada's more sophisticated players: guitarists Stephen Nikleva and Neil Clarke, keyboard guy Vincent Jones, bassist Rick May and percussion guys Greg Reely, Paul Brennen and Scott Harding. Some tasty trumpet and flugelhorn from Daniel Lapp as well.
Although I've taken the role of antagonist reviewer here, examining the poetry of Mae Moore with one of Sherlock Holmes' oversized magnifying glasses, I can recommend this album to you as a good listen. Perhaps you'll identify with the angst and the disorientation, the ongoing attempt to make love a cure-all, to substitute flight from one lover to another for self-examination, self-determination and personal philosophy Mae Moore is no airhead, but don't expect 'answers' here. You are more likely to find compassion, which is something we can all use on a day-to-day basis.
Review by Jim Brown
Mae Moore (vocals); Vince Jones (keyboards); Rick May (bass); Paul Brennan (drums); Neil Clarke.Recorded in Sooke, British Columbia, Canada.