Sensitive and Timeless Songs of Love and Heartbreak Worthy of the 70’s Bedsit Superstars.
I’ve said it many times over the years; the whole reason for The Rocking Magpie being in existence; is to bring you new music that you won’t necessarily find in the mainstream press and this album from Angelino singer-songwriter Maia Sharp; who is now based in Nashville, is such a case. Although she’s been making albums since 97 and writing songs for the great and the good in the interim; coupled with her combo Roscoe & Etta, with Anna Schulze who have released a couple of fabulous albums; Maia by name is still relatively unknown outside the musical cognoscenti. The captivating Backburner opens the album, with a charming ‘bass heavy’ production which adds a certain ‘something’ to Ms. Sharp’s thoughtful and grown up tale of a love affair that is obviously doomed to failure; but …… but ….. but ….. she still has hope. Junkyard Dog, Things To Fix and When The World Doesn’t End all being disparately different but all proving Maia can not just write a sizzling song but add a melody that her peers can only dream of creating. Presumably being a songwriter pays the bills; but to my ears Maia Sharp has a voice like tattered velvet; drawing you into her fascinating tales like a siren on the cliff’s edge. While most of us will listen to these songs on our phone’s headphones or the car stereo; I recommend you actually buy the CD (or vinyl if you are that way inclined) as the production here will be best served via a good pair of hi-fi speakers; with the curtains drawn too. That will certainly be the best way to explore the endearing heartbreakers Nice Girl and You’ll Know Who Knows You; both of which oddly reminded me of Joni Mitchell, Tift Merritt AND Ashley Monroe in the way Maia constructs her narratives; drawing you in, then ……. punching you in the heart when you least expect it! It will come as no great surprise that there are no ‘obvious singles’ here; as this is what used to be known as AOR (I guess); and it certainly is aimed at the likes of you and me who have the capacity to listen to an album from start to finish in one sitting; perhaps even two or three; but there are a couple of songs that have managed to capture my attention over the others. Things To Fix and Whatever We Are really are exceptional songs; both sitting up there with the best of the 70’s bedsit singer-songwriters that we still love and adore in 2021. The title track itself; the dark and brooding Mercy Rising will take your breath away the first time you play it; then make you edge closer to the speakers to absorb every word and breath that comes from Maia’s mouth. Then, there is the quirky Not Your Friend; which slightly jars with the album’s sequencing; deliberately so I guess; as the singer really does capture the intense feelings that a break-up of any sort make you do things that you shouldn’t oughta …… making this my Favourite Song on an album destined for my year end Top 20. I’ve vaguely been aware of Maia Sharp over the years; and really enjoyed the last Roscoe & Etta album; but nothing prepared me for the intensity and beauty combined in the lyrics and stories on this album ….. it’s a keeper.
The 1957 Tail Fin Fiasco Don’t Go Anywhere Bandcamp Inc.
Contemporary All-American, Grown Up Pop Music From a Sleeper Unit Based in Essex.
The 1957 Tail Fin Fiasco are riddled with many and various secrets ….. some I am privy too; and others that are part of an elaborate FBI plot to plant American ex-popstar sleeper units deep into the UK countryside; and when the time is right, will send them a codeword (‘Lockdown’ ?) so they can spread jollity and happiness across the airwaves. Or not ….. depending on your imagination. It’s got to be something like that; or why else would this 100% American belter; made in Essex sound so almost perfect and fully formed; if the Tail Fins hadn’t previously spent the the last 20+ years touring the Western Hemisphere and releasing Grammy Winning albums? It all starts with the Reno’s Electric Stairs; funky Contemporary All-American Pop Music in all its fabulous multi-layered glory ….. What’s not to like? Sadly most of the descriptive prose I want to use may likely put you off; and that would be a damn shame; as these songs; one and all, are perfect slices of intellectual, articulate and melodious slices of Grown Up Pop Music in the same vein as RMHQ favourites Barenaked Ladies and most of all; a band I fell in love with by accident when I once bought the wrong LP ……. Steely Dan! While I don’t normally get lost in the rabbit hole that is full of vinyl fetishists; but these songs like Best Bitters, 1909 GTC and Here All Week are chock full of hidden musical chambers that you simply must take the time to listen either on headphones or most likely damn good (and balanced) hi-fi speakers to get the best out of the them. If we use their new FBI names, 1957 Tail Fin Fiasco are; more or less, the brainchild of David Myers and Malcolm Moore who have proper day jobs; meaning these songs and their intensely clever and intricate arrangements are, to all intents and purposes …. a hobby! Hence my FBI ‘Witness Protection’ theory ….. surely, Heligan Begin Again and J is For Genius (with that funky as Hell bass line!) can only be from musicians who studied at Harvard Tango University? Also; I can only dream/fantacise about hearing Open Your Windows & Doors in all it’s Sgt. Pepper filtered through Pet Sounds glory at Sage Gateshead or even Newcastle City Hall with its majestic acoustics; but more than likely it will be at the Fox and Hounds on a Thursday night in the Latin Quarter of Chigwell; which is such a shame. Even though I loved their last album HARVARD TANGO and was privy to a secret single a few weeks ago; nothing has really prepared me for the leaps and bounds Myers and Moore have made in the interim; which has made choosing a Favourite Track nigh on impossible; just about every song merits its place here …….’all killer – no filler’, but I’ve concentrated this morning and narrowed it down to three ……. the quirky Sparks-a-like Banana Beer and Other Cults; the self-depreciating Silverback and the slow and sultry Best Bitters; which really and truly sounds like it was the ‘secret track’ in the run off to first edition CD’s of Steely Dan’s Aja or Gaucho! Seriously; and I know I am capable of excessive hyperbole some days but this album is a MUST BUY if you like any of the bands I’ve name checked above; or you just like Classy Music.