Blix Street Records www.maiasharp.com
With three writing credits on Bonnie Raitt’s ‘Souls Alike’ album and with this relationship leading to her working with this site’s hallowed friend Don Was, Sharp has proved that she has in her own way as much to give to the biz as her songwriter dad Randy Sharp. Sharp plays keys, guitar and sax besides singing and vocally she has worked not only with Raitt but Art Garfunkel and Buddy Mondlock ( check the ‘Everything Waits To Be Noticed’ album).
But it is likely that her time turning around song origination and same-day release per MyDamnChannel.com really honed Maia’s songwriting chops. Trust Was to pull that kind of thing off. On this release, Don plays bass and other instruments and on the sticks we find none other than Jim Keltner!!
One good reason to check out this record – Sharp’s beguiling tuneful and versatile voice. Put this in an organic instrumental setting very close in overall feel to the last and excellent Vonda Shepard set ‘ From The Sun’ and listenability is guaranteed. Selected from a few years’ writing, these selections were put together to thread a mood for the album and it works, not least due to Was’ unerring production skills.
Bonnie guests on guitar on opener ‘ Death By Perfection’ ; while ‘Whole Flat World’ rocks its way through a gorgeous melody, fine sax interlude and wahwah touches. Is this pop, rock or jazz ? Does it matter ? Check the strident Petty-style crash into ‘Polite Society’, this is writing with impact, incessantly catchy, all ringing guitars and that fabulous singing. You know when Jackson Browne chooses to rock out ? This is up there with him in this mood and could almost be a Cotton Mather powerpop gem of a song. ‘Unbreakable’ uses a loping tread to tell the tale and may be the best vocal on the record, irresistible chorus underlined with warm keys and yes Don, Bonnie has left her mark on your slide playing!
Sharp confesses that for the first time on her own releases, something of ‘her own truths’ slipped into the songs, in toto. This is pretty brave, so often when this happens and writers get insular the only reaction the hapless listener can have is “ For chrissakes, go and GET A THERAPIST!!” Phil Collins’ endless works of self-pity come to mind. The song ‘The Girl On Her Way’ is a great example of a story that many creatives can empathise with. When that approach is centred on romance, viz. ‘ Real Thing’, something inside you gives a small sigh. Now these aren’t songs to be shouted out in stadiums, one foot on the monitor. It’s intimate music that gets feverish as times, fine mix by Krish Sharma.
Most appealing though has to be Sharp’s notion that perfection is not what she is striving for with this release, maybe that’s why it connects. In summary, this release is as good as any Marc Cohn set or the better Aimee Mann works, it’s that successful. To this listener, anyway
Pete Sargeant www.fairhearing.co.uk