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Mae Simpson

Did You Make It Back

Review by Gary Hill

This EP from 2020 has quite a range of musical styles. It's all pulled together by Mae Simpson's potent vocal performance. While there is a lot of variety, everything here is effective. I might have arranged the track order a little differently, but this is a pretty darned good EP as it is. Simpson and her band do a great job of creating compelling and entertaining music that seems to transcend trends and eras.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2022  Volume 5. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2022.

Track by Track Review
Keeping on My Feet
An energetic jam brings this into being. Horns are a nice touch in the mix. There is a healthy helping of ska on this tune. In fact, in some ways it makes me think of early No Doubt, but the vocals are more grounded and bluesy at times. This is a lot of fun.
Already Here
The bass starts this and holds it for a time. As the other instruments join, this works out to a sultry sort of jam feels rather jazzy and retro. This number is seriously classy. It works so well. The vocals really sell it, too. As much as I liked the opener, this is better. It even has some hints of funk built into it.
Smile
Funk and ska merge on this up-tempo piece. It has so much style and just oozes cool. It's another catchy and fun tune.
Home
I dig the jazzy elements on this. The vocals make me think of Janis Joplin to some degree. There is a soaring angle to this at times. It's a classy cut.
Sorry
Jazz, funk and ska seem to merge on this bouncy and energetic piece. It's another that's quite entertaining.
Monsters
The musical arrangement on this is stripped back. Instead, we get a rich and dense vocal arrangement. There is a gospel music sort of feeling here, but it's merged with alternative rock and pop elements. This brings a lot of variety. It's also very cool.
Birds
Built on just acoustic guitar and vocals, this is pretty rocking. The Janis Joplin comparison is again relevant, at least somewhat. This also calls to mind a whole slew of modern female performers. As solid and interesting as this is, I think it would have been more effective somewhere closer the middle of the set. I don't think it's the best choice for closer.
 
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