Monday, January 11, 2010

Reviews:: Kate Maki Two Song Wedding

There comes a time for most artists, at least those that venture out into the unforgiving world of touring, that inspiration for songs shifts from the sketches and emotions you hold close to fragments of diner conversations or late night, after show drunken exhaustion scratched on napkins and stuffed into your jacket pocket.

The excitement of playing shows is overpowered by a longing for home and missing people you had only the most banal and casual of interactions slowly starts to consume your every thought. Thankfully, for the artist's that continue to grow, that odyssey last only as long as the dreaded second album and doesn't become Homer-esque.

That's why when Kate Maki repeats "home sweet home" on her new album - Two Song Wedding - you never get the feeling she is longing for the comforts of her own bed, more that she is completely content to spend her nights writing songs and playing music in those friendly confines. The difference may seem subtle (or even insignificant), but that little distinction allows Kate to supplement her songs with the efforts of tons of talented musicians - Howe Gelb, Nathan Lawr, Nick Luca, Thoger
Lund, Tommy Larkin Dale Murray, Jeremy Gara
to name just a few - without losing focus or ever offering tracks that sound muddled. Remarkably, these songs were written alone, and must of the musicians had never heard the songs (although several had collaborated with Maki on her last record) before they started practicing for the recording, but instead of a gloomy, personal journey, Maki's emotions can be shared by almost any one that listens.

On the slow burning opener, Bloodshot & Blistered, Maki tries to process exhaustion and sadness, but instead of alienating us, the harmonies and traded vocals, piano, banjo and drums, Maki somehow transforms the song so we never get dragged down by the loneliness. The summery, sun-kissed melody that follows (In Comes the Light) or the rollicking, fuzzed our density of Message Delivered (how great is the horn that shows up out of nowhere?) are invitations to listen, and make dusty trail numbers like the From Below hit with a much harder impact.

Maki changes pace extremely well on Two Song Wedding, and even when she is at her most sombre - like the dreary Carved in Sand - she balances the melancholic with interesting strings, blasts of electric or an unexpected texture. Ripped Out of the Moon starts as a grim, dark tale, but slowly and confidently Maki and the band add a surprising build that energizes the song and gives the record another layer.

The success of this record is simple. Maki was able to write a collection of songs that probably shouldn't fit together as well as they do - the gentle picking of Upon a Time should stand out and disrupt the record, but it doesn't - and never loose steam. Maki's decision to reveal the emotion and ideas she has when she sits at home alone expands her sound and provides the freedom for a table of talented guests to experiment with her and offer their own emotion to the process. The end result is personal and intimate, but at the same time accessible and spontaneous. The 41-minute run-time feels more like 25 and you eagerly let the record loop over and start again; which is a wedding gift most song writers would love to receive.


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Posted at 7:32 AM by ack :: 0 comments

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