Tag Archives: Patti Smith

Freya Roy – Tomorrow EP Review

Only a teenager, Freya Roy is producing music that would be expected of someone double her age. Her voice has a quality in it that adds years to her vocals. Her lyrics aren’t simple, they aren’t ‘pop’ song lyrics. They have meaning and an understanding of the world which would be mistaken for someone twice her age. Freya Roy is a solo artist with a huge amount of potential and as she is still very young, her music will flourish as she does.

After releasing her debut EP in December 2012, Wait In The Water, she has returned with her latest EP release, Tomorrow. Tomorrow is just as awe-inspiring as Wait In The Water.

Track one Not Forgotten sees Roy experiment with a pop/jazz guitar riff using reverb overlapping with and complimenting the rhythm guitar which also uses the reverb effect. Knowing that Roy uses a loop peddle when performing live gives this song an extra boost – it’s perfect for a loop peddle. On Not Forgotten, Roy sings about a love lost, perhaps a torturous love which can damage the way someone thinks. It’s a song about breaking free from something that’s bad for you and pushing all those bad thoughts away while remembering what you have to look forward to, “Invest my mind with the stars that you gave me/There are in my head rotten at the core…Not forgotten I will not forget/The shine’s still shining in my head…Nothing better than a memory in my head/Keep them in front whilst you’re ahead”. Not Forgotten is a song about remembering the bad times,  appreciating the not so good memories, and moving forward. Roy’s vocals on this track are outstanding, there’s little control but this is what makes it so fantastic. Her voice ascends and descends showcasing so much emotion. Her voice has definitely matured in the last year. Not Forgotten is another example of Roy’s ability to write lyrics as if she has a whole life-time of experiences and wisdom.

I Know It’s Alright is another favourite off the Tomorrow EP. It starts as a solemn number with Roy’s vocals having a vague resemblance to Patti Smith’s deeper tones until the chorus kicks in and Roy finds her distinctive voice again. The lyrics, “I know it’s alright/When the rays are in my eyes/When the sun shine is so bright/I know it’s alright/When the tears dry from your eyes/When the sun shine is so bright” are incredibly memorable and singable as well as being uplifting and meaningful. This song has a really good feeling about it – the guitar riffs are summery, meditative and totally relaxing which all aids this good feeling.

Sunrise sees Roy experiment with her vocal range with the chorus able to send shivers down your spine. Roy expresses so much with her voice so her accompanying music can be kept simple. I See is a jazz influenced song with plenty of jazz guitar and jazz singing. It’s really uplifting and has some wonderfully calming harmonies.  It’s the penultimate track before Not Too Much Not Too Little comes in with its Jeff Buckley inspired sad tones.

The sound of the guitar on this record is very similar to the sounds achieved by Michael Kiwanuka – it has the jazz/folk/soul 70s feel to it. The whole EP has a familiar sound to it with influences from the likes of Patti Smith (vocals only), Michael Kiwanuka (guitar/stylistic qualities), Van Morrison and John Mayer (soul/jazz riffs). There is even a slight reminiscence of Jeff Buckley in some of the guitar riffs and tones.

Tomorrow is another marvelous release from Freya Roy. She is outstanding for her age – her wisdom, talent and view of life is much above most people at her age. This is an EP that everyone should take at least one listen of. It will open your eyes to the true talent that’s out there.

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The Milk Carton Kids Nominated For A Grammy For Best Folk Album

The Milk Carton Kids have been nominated for a Grammy for the Best Folk Album for their debut, The Ash & Clay, which was released earlier this year.

The folk duo are also featured in a new Showtime special entitled Another Day, Another Time. The film documents the benefit concert held last September in New York City celebrating the music of the new Coen Brothers’ film, Inside Llewyn Davis, which is set in the 1960s Greenwich Village folk music scene. The concert was produced by the Coens and T Bone Burnett, the film’s soundtrack producer. Along with The Milk Carton Kids, the film features performances from the Avett Brothers, Joan Baez, Marcus Mumford, Punch Brothers, Patti Smith, Jack White and more.

Below is a preview of a scene of The Milk Carton Kids rehearsing their song Snake Eyes for rapt onlookers including Punch Brothers, Marcus Mumford, T Bone Burnett and the Coens.

Another Day, Another Time aired on Friday 13 December on Showtime.

The Milk Carton Kids have announced a series of North American tour dates for the Spring of 2014. They will be performing in support of their critically acclaimed and Grammy nominated Anti- Records release, The Ash & Clay.

You can catch them live on the following dates:
14 April – Nashville, TN – Belcourt Theate
15 April – St. Louis, MO – Sheldon Ballroom
16 April – Memphis, TN – Buckman Performing Arts Center
17 April – Birmingham, AL – TBD
18 April – Atlanta, GA – The Buckhead Theatre
19 April – Asheville, NC – Grey Eagle
21 April – Vienna, VA – The Barns at Wolf Trap
22 April – Philadelphia, PA – World Cafe Live
24 April – Brownfield, ME – Stone Mountain Arts Center
30 April – Boston, MA – Brighton Music Hall
1 May – Burlington, VT – Higher Ground
2 May – Montreal, QC – Corona Theatre
3 May – Toronto, ON – The Great Hall
5 May – Cleveland, OH – Beachland Ballroom
6 May – Ann Arbor, MI – The Ark
7 May – Grand Rapids, MI – Ladies Literary Club
9 May – Chicago, IL – TBD
10 May – Stoughton, WI – Stoughton Opera House
11 May – Minneapolis, MN – Dakota Jazz Club
12 May – Winnipeg, MB – TBD
14 May – Calgary, AB – Festival Hall
15 May – Edmonton, AB – McDougall United Church
29 May – Houston, TX – Mucky Duck
30 May – Austin, TX – Stateside Theater
31 May – Dallas, TX – Poor David’s Pub
1 June – Oklahoma City, OK – Blue Door
3 June – Denver, CO – Bluebird Theater
5 June – Salt Lake City, UT – The State Room
6 June – Boise, ID – Neurolux
11 June – Seattle, WA – Neptune Theatre
12 June – Vancouver, BC – St. James Hall
14 June – Portland, OR – Aladdin Theater
16 June – Napa, CA – City Winery
17 June – Santa Cruz, CA – Kuumbwa Jazz
18 June – San Francisco, CA – Great American Music Hall
19 June – Santa Barbara, CA – TBD
21 June – Los Angeles, CA – Japan America Theater
22 June – Solana Beach, CA – Belly Up
23 June – Phoenix, AZ – Musical Instument Museum

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Marla Mase – Speak (Deluxe Edition)

Marla Mase is a writer, performer, producer, singer and songwriter from New York City. On top of being multi-talented in the musical and artist side of life, she has been awarded an honorary ‘Messenger of Peace’ award by Friends of the UN for her work as a visionary artist and songwriter. Marla Mase isn’t your typical punk rock chick.

Marla Mase

Marla Mase and the Tomas Doncker Band

Marla Mase has become known for her provocative and raw live performances and thought-provoking lyrics which focus on the injustices of the world, media pressures upon women among other political and social issues. Marla Mase isn’t a passive member of society. She uses her thought-provoking songs to inspire others (just as others like Bob Dylan did in the past). However, unlike those huge inspirational artists of the 60s and 70s, Mase doesn’t take a back seat. Whatever she sings about, she also puts into practice. Songs like Queen of Imperfection and AnnaRexia highlight the issue of the pressure that is put on women by the media and society to look a certain way. Mase sings about this while also actively campaigning. AnnaRexia is spearheading the StayImperfect Project or Love Your Butt Campaign which Marla created to empower women to not only accept but love themselves and their bodies. Proceeds from AnnaRexia as well as emerging artist, Lael Summer’s track, The Good Fight (whose EP Marla co-produced with Doncker) will go towards theprojectheal.org, a non-profit organization founded by two teenage eating disorder survivors, that raises scholarship money for girls whose families cannot afford to send them to treatment.

For the above reasons among others, Mase has been noted as being a true musical pioneer of our time. She is about to release the deluxe edition of her album Speak. Speak was first released in 2010. The deluxe edition features the ten original tracks plus six extra ones such as AnnaRexia and Piece of Peace.

Marla Mase has been compared to the likes of Jim Morrison and Patti Smith. Two of the most inspirational musicians of the 60s and 70s. Mase certainly has a Patti Smith feel to her music and to some extent, her appearance and attitude to life. Songs like Open Up My Heart and Queen of Imperfection really do ooze Smith’s attitude and spirit. Her musical style reflects that of Smith’s as well. Her music is poetry in song. She mixes spoken word, punk, rock, global soul and reggae influences to produce a sound all her own. It seems Mase belongs in the 70s but is a few decades too late.

Lyrically, Mase is not as strong as Smith or Morrison, she is less literary and more factual. Her songs’ messages are easier to understand than that of Smith’s or Morrison’s. For example, the lyrics of and meaning behind track five, New Cell Phone are pretty obvious – the world has become too digitalised, mobile phones and the internet are the only way people communicate now. Mase sings about changing her number and trying to escape the world around her.

Marla Mase

Marla Mase performing live

Mase is more straight forward in her approach to lyrics, she’s clear and direct. However, saying that, Open Up My Heart is a narrative about a protected princess who longs to witness real life and experience true love. It reminds me of the story of the Buddha in some ways, a protected being who wishes to see the real world and how others live, even if that means witnessing love and hate.

Other favourite tracks on Speak are Queen of Imperfection, She Hooked Him Up, Divine Restlessness and Dance the Tango. Usually it’s easy to distinguish your favourite tracks on an album but this time round it was hard. Most of the tracks are outstanding due to the way they open your mind and make you think about the world and how we all live in it together.

Queen of Imperfection sees Mase singing her heart out about how she is not ‘perfect’. No-one is perfect and this is something we should all celebrate. The lyrics, “I’m cracked, flawed and defective just like you are…My body has some wear and tear because it ain’t been airbrushed and I don’t care…Ain’t no cover girl/Ain’t no pornographic supermodel movie star/My hair ain’t combed/My house is a wreck…” are all too true. We should embrace that we are all real and unique and not false like Hollywood movie stars.

She Hooked Him Up has a great funk beat that will instantly have you tapping your feet. This song is about the power of sex in society. Sex sells as we all know far too well.  Divine Restlessness is one of the few slow numbers on the record where Mase sings about switching off and fully relaxing in an Eastern meditative way; reaching the Divine. Dance the Tango is a song that feels separate from the rest of the album which is why it’s a favourite. This is the only track on the album with folk influences and is a welcomed break from the punk influences found in the rest of the tracks. Vocally, Mase sounds more angelic and less angry in Dance the Tango. It has a great melody and beat that will have you bobbing along in no time. It’s a narrative about a woman who died and her obituary was read in the paper. However, it missed out how she enjoyed dancing the tango, “They forgot to mention how you liked to laugh and how you loved to dance the tango”. Dance the Tango focuses on remembering the little things about those people you love; those things that made them happy, not about how much you miss them when they’ve gone.

Mase has the ability to write lyrics and create songs that open your mind. They will get you thinking. There are layers to her songs meaning you can take what you want from each one. Those interpretations above are my own but you might listen and find other meanings in the songs. There are not many artists that can write in that way these days. There are not many artists who can create songs that make you think about the wider picture. For most songs we are a passive audience but when you listen to Mase, you will become an active audience member.

Speak (the deluxe edition) will be available from Thursday 28 February. You can listen to the stream here.

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