MAERAE – More Please
Lisa Hinzman spent many years plunking the electric bass and doing backing vocals in some of Madison’s favorite bands (the Quickies, NoahJohn), so it was a bit of a surprise when she stepped forward to front her own project with her voice as her only instrument. Over the years, MaeRae has seen several member changes, but the vision hasn’t changed. More Please is the logical follow-up to 2004’s Yes Please, and once again it is Hinzman’s sassy charm that carries the songs. Her smoky, expressive voice, which has the illusion of being on the verge of breaking, lends every song a torchy, dramatic feel. If that wasn’t enough, every once in awhile she adds shivery whispers from the haunting musical saw.
Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and the opening song “Match” is loaded with incendiary imagery. Lines like “I leave a matchbox at your door to remind you / Scratch a match on your love and you’ll set yourself on fire,” and “fire is beautiful” feel vaguely threatening, but the song’s ultimate theme seems to be one of salvation: “Fix me up, fix me up / I’ve already fallen apart.” The next song “Universe” is a flat-out rocker, full of percussion, infectious handclaps and tambourine. A gloriously heartfelt yet thankfully sap-free ode to her child, it celebrates the little things that make kids special, while the chorus, “So small so big / You have changed everything / Amazing you / The new center of the universe,” perfectly sums up how they change your life and shift your priorities.
The technique of addressing the poignant with a catchy melody continues on “Hit Reply,” a tribute to the late John Glick (to whom the whole album is dedicated). Glick, formerly of Madison, was killed just over a year ago with two other musicians in a tragic accident in a Chicago suburb that affected the music communities of both cities. Perhaps because it is such an intensely personal song, it is one of the disc’s strongest. The title refers to her response to the message of his death: a “bad dream on the answering machine.” She wonders, “If I hit reply, will it go to heaven? / Will my words fly back to you?” It is a touching song that you can dance to, complete with cowbell.
In fact, Peter Kaesburg’s percussion is excellent throughout, whether banging the full kit or adding a simple tambourine to the Christmas-y “Snowglobe.” Patrick Keogh complements him nicely on bass. Another NoahJohn alum, Steve Burke, coaxes lovely mandolin-like melodies from his tenor guitar, used to its best effect on the pretty “Wrong Way.” Guitarist Edward Mish rocks the Minimoog (notably on “Hit Reply”) as well as adding backing vocals. It’s a winning combination. I’m already wondering if she’ll call the next release Again, Please.
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