Maia Sharp – Reckless Thoughts
Totally removed from the breathy, angst-possessed candy-coated popular female vocalists that dominate today comes Nashville’s warm womanly tones of Maia Sharp.
This collection is her 9th in a 25-year career & it’s filled with what Maia is known for – well-written appealing tunes reinforced by thoughtful lyrics that are relatable & vividly showcased. The opener “She’ll Let Herself Out,” is breezy, followed by the slow & enticing “Old Dreams,” — a ballad, but nothing soupy. It has an underlying intensity that renders the tune beautiful.
There’s a Bonnie Raitt quality but she’s not quite as bluesy, a Carole King melodic cleverness but not so California (though that’s where Ms. Sharp was born). She has chiseled out her own identity & it’s an enticing style. If I had to compare her I’d draw on Joan Osborne, Paula Cole, Tanita Tikaram, Cindy Bullens & Maria McKee.
There’s a degree of experience in Ms. Sharp’s performance & her voice doesn’t come off as vulnerable. The songs are carefully crafted & while not as folky & later jazzy as Joni Mitchell Maia’s in that ballpark. I don’t find her voice androgynous – it’s feminine, warm & confident. Much the same as the late Judee Sill & as heartwarming as Eva Cassidy. A wonderful effort.
The topics Maia focuses on & in turn develops through her music is striking. She has humor in some of her lyrics & covers her survival after transitioning into single life in a new locale – Nashville. It’s there that Maia produced her 10-track Reckless Thoughts (Drops Aug 18–Independent) which offers a diversified set that is never heavy-handed, or pretentious.
“Too Far Now,” certifies Maia as a worthy torch singer, a lounge singer & a jazz vocalist with warm saxophone touches that are plaintive & nostalgic in feeling. The tune “Gone Cryin’” tugs at the stylization of Madeline Peyroux & Bird York. A silent strength through melody. It’s also rooted in what Tanita Tikaram (especially “Everything You Need”) often displayed. A beauty of a song.
What was surprisingly evident is the lack of special effects, no sterling additions that are artificial & no vocal treatments. It’s Maia Sharp vocally with no embellishments. A superb showcase.
Highlights – “She’ll Let Herself Out,” “Old Dreams,” “Too Far Now,” “Gone Cryin’” & “Everything You Need.”
Musicians – Maia (piano/sax/CP/baritone electric & drums), Ross McReynolds (drums/percussion), Will Honaker (bass/baritone acoustic & mellotron), Joshua Grange (electric guitars/synths/piano), Eric Darken (percussion), Vanessa Freebairn-Smith & Katie Larson (cello), The Accidentals (strings), Sav Buist (violin/viola), Peter Groenwald (piano), Garrison Starr (acoustic guitar & bgv), Shelly Fairchild, Mindy Smith, Wendy Moten & Emily West (bgv),
CD B&W photo by Anna Haas. The 35-minute CD @ https://www.maiasharp.com/y
Enjoy our interview here: Interview: Maia Sharp “Reckless Thoughts” Shares The Value of Perspective