Singer-songwriter Maya Solovey has released a new EP that recalls the 90′s heyday of alternative with a broken heart.
5.0 / 10.0
Brooklyn singer-songwriter Maya Solovey has released a new six-song EP of cinematic ballads entitled Forte. Maya has been popping around the globe and making music since the mid-2000′s. With Forte you will find the artist splitting time between interesting indie pop and overwrought ballads that either try too hard or not hard enough. Let’s begin with the criticism. The middle four songs of the record are piano ballads that sound eerily similiar to something you might have found on a mid-90′s Sarah McLachlan record. These don’t work so much for me. I can’t escape the feeling that we’ve heard this before, and it wasn’t entirely interesting the first time around. These sound like attempts at those songs they play in films during the protagonist’s slow motion realization that they have to fight for love.
The production is also a bit too mainstream for my taste. It would seem that was the intent as well, as Maya’s Grammy-winning producer and live-in boyfriend Bassy Bob Brockman has stated, “We were bent on making something that rivaled the high-end production of the big label records. However, we were going to do it on our own terms, proving to the ‘big dogs,’ that we could make a giant lush record at a tenth of the price.” I think they succeeded on that account and to the record’s detriment. The performances are understated and the production tends to wash all of the sound together into a sleepy mess, devoid of any real flavor. On top of that, the tracks don’t really seem to ever build emotionally from that starting point, leaving them in a static limbo. Just take a listen to “Orphan” and you’ll get the picture.
That is all a shame too, because I also get the feeling that Maya Solovey could be a really brilliant songwriter if she would only give in to her quirkier predilections. This happens twice on Forte, and makes the two most clearly memorable moments on the EP. The good stuff bookshelves the record, beginning with album opener “Ring Ring Ring”. Here, Solovey’s understated vocal works well to set the childlike musing apart from other songs like it. “Ring Ring Ring” has been released as the first single from Forte and for good reason; it is this most endearing hook on the entire record. Maya channels those endearing Natalie Merchant guest appearances from the Mermaid Avenue records, and it works.
Forte finishes with it’s other high note and sole working ballad, “The Most”. This minimal track with a slight hint of chamber pop is the most emotionally engaging song on the record, leading me to believe that Solovey would do herself a favor by shedding the somewhat boring production and superfluous instrumentation in favor of a more basic or raw performance. If she does take that path, I’ll be interested again in a heartbeat. Until then, I think I’ll leave Forte to the hopeless romantics.
“Ring Ring Ring”
Purchase Maya Solovey’s Forte