Can You See Me?
Black Hen Records
A Beautiful Tapestry of Interwoven Folk and Jazz
As my regular readers know; my modus operandi is to play an album a couple of times before reading the attached Press Release, so as not to pre-judge my own feelings about the music.
Well; when I did read the PR I had a wry smile, as Maya Rae first recorded an album of Jazz/Pop covers at the tender age of 13 and has subsequently sung and toured with many of Canada’s Jazz elite; which is why this delightful ‘crossover’ album has plenty of Jazz stylings, phrasing and even melodies; but just like RMHQ Favourites Allison Russell and Jeremy Lindsay aka Birds of Chicago who feature on a few tracks; this has just as many Folk leanings and even some Commercial swoops and swooshes too…… making the album very difficult to pigeon hole ….. so let’s go for Singer-Songwriter?
The title track Can You See Me? opens proceedings in the most delightful and charismatic manner. Even from her opening bars you know that you are in the presence of someone special, and then the way Maya Rae uses her voice, which can only be described as an opaque mix of satin and lace; is spell-binding at times.
When you listen intently to the words in the songs you will be stunned to find that Maya is still by 18 years old and her co-writer brother Gabriel; only a smidgen older.
For ones so young their songwriting is very ‘mature’ and Steve Dawson’s sublime production really brings songs like New For Me and Storm Leaf to sparkling life.
When you first hear Dawson’s scary guitar breaks on Freedom Fighter you may be forgiven for thinking the song is going into Soft Rock territory; but when May’s tragically beautiful vocals kick in; you are whisked away to the Whiskey – A – Go Go circa 1973 and you are sitting watching the new Reprise or Warner’s act among the musical cognoscenti.
I’m still shaking my head at the idea that Maya Rae is still only 18 …….. how can one so young write something as powerful as Lonely Ones or Mountain Angel? Or album closer Here too, for that matter?
Presumably Maya and Gabriel’s parents had a great record collection that the pair were brought up listening to; but so did my sons and they couldn’t write a song like The Sun Will Come Out Again; which captures the angst that a teenage break-up causes so intimately …… and beautifully.
Which easily leads into my Favourite Song here; Moon Girl. Part of me wants to dissect every single line in this tragic tale for you and another wants to keep it all Top Secret and let you feel the full force of two exceptional songwriters colliding like a Supernova when you are least expecting it ……. trust me this song will take your breath away; just like the first time you heard Beautiful on TAPESTRY or River on Blue; and if you are under 40 and not heard either ……. I urge you to do so, the day after buying this album!
It’s bizarre to think that at 18 Maya Rae already has the ‘road miles’ under her belt; but she has and with only a fair wind to ease her along, this album has the ability to blow her out into the Musical Stratosphere in 2020.
Released April 24th 2020