Mae Simpson

REVIEW: Mae Simpson “Chandelier & Bloom”


Mae Simpson – Chandelier & Bloom

Formed in 2017, this Minneapolis 6-piece is a powder keg. Focused on a tight milieu of funk, soul, pop, rock & country lead singer Mae Simpson is a chef in a musical kitchen that cooks up every kind of satisfying flavor. Originally from South Carolina, Mae released 2 EPs but the 13-cut Chandelier & Bloom (Drops Sept 1–Independent) is her first full-scale CD.

Mae Simpson

Mae has no interpretation fear since she swims in determined genres & her application though at times aggressive offers new twists to old ideas. She has a tenderness to her tone other belters don’t possess & it’s evident in “Cap Guns,” & “Somebody.” Both have energy Mae controls with her vocal finesse. Of course, this provides generous entertainment value. Something many singers don’t include when performing.

These songs have the benefit of fine arrangements, colorful percussion, trumpet toots & thunderous accentuating drums. It adds up to a unit that understands dynamics. Shifting over to a Latin-tinged “California-Carolina,” the band exemplifies what it is to play loose & delectably. This can be filed under party-festival music. Latinos particularly won’t be able to resist this dance-infectious beat loaded with a Desi Arnaz “I Love Lucy” musical drive. This smokes & exposes the bare wires of a tune with spirited circuitry.

The band is cooked with Bar-Kays spice (“Soul Finger”) & purr deliciously sweet grooves in a tight package that becomes “Sally.” This is full of a tangible sense of joy. Mae isn’t so much Janis Joplin (though she does touch on Janis’ type of vocal brilliantly on “Why”) or Candy Givens — she’s closer to Genya Ravan. Genya had a wider range of interpretations. Mae doesn’t exude blues the way Janis did in each tune but is more of a transformative groove expert.

“Minnehaha Mama,” is Prince-inspired with a faux falsetto that slides resolutely out of that style into Mae’s rawer punctuated growling maneuver that is a well-conceived musical side order. With the title track “Chandelier & Bloom,” there’s a tint of Mother Earth’s Tracy Nelson (“I Need Your Love So Bad”) that’s more country-blues oriented. What’s added is the range of 1994’s & Blue By Nature’s Karen Lawrence’s pipes (“Once Again,” “Bring It Home”).

Mae is full-force as well & what makes her special is her ability to emphasize all the right lyrics & allow her songs atmosphere among the fireworks. The band has the ’60s & early ’70s urbanity fusion that coalesces with coherence & is admirable. Produced by Brian “Snowman” Powers (saxes/bgv/keys/programming) & recorded in Minneapolis, MN.
Listen to one song – make it “Mountains.” It’s a jewel.

Highlights – “Cap Guns.” “California-Carolina,” “Sally” “Minnehaha Mama,” “Chandelier & Bloom,” “Why,” the superb “Somebody” & “Mountains.”

Musicians – Aaron Silverstein (drums/bgv), David Kellermann (bass), Jorgen Wadkins II (electric, acoustic & 12-string guitars/mandolin), Ricardo J. Romero (percussion), Paul Pederson (trumpet) with Toby Lee Marshall (Hammond organ), Maura Dunst (fiddle/bgv) & The Foxgloves (bgv).

Color image courtesy of Mae’s Facebook. The 45-minute CD @

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