Monday, May 23, 2005

Maria McKee...

There are certain artists who are simply essential to one's musical make up. They could be the band that played your first concert (Madness), made you believe music could be more than just noise (The English Beat, The Specials). I'm thinking about those early days of youth when you'd wait with your breath held for you favorite band's next record to come out; the days when you'd just sit on the floor of your room listening to records and reading lyrics, convincing yourself that they were singing to you and only you. Well, for me Lone Justice was one of those bands. I can't even count how many times I sang (badly) at the top of my lungs "Ways to Be Wicked", louder as I got progressively more drunk. Oddly enough Lone Justice was my first introduction to country music. Since then the alt-country taste has been firmly planted on my tongue. I followed Maria Mckee's solo work closely, though truth is that Mckee lost me at some point. I thought You Gotta Sin To Be Saved was great and its predeccesor Maria Mckee was full of emotionally vibrant portraits of working class folks, travelling shows and cobwebbed boarding houses. But her ventures into more prog-rock, operatic work seemed less interesting to me. I saw her with Vic Chesnutt at Noe Valley Ministry a few years ago and she proved that she still has some of the best vocal chords around and the ability to make those early songs soar. I suppose it was just a matter of time before she returned to her more country roots. Perhaps it's a naked attempt to capture an audience that may have stopped paying attention, but her new album Peddlin' Dreams is a return to the rootsy elements that her voice seems tailored to. There's more country on this record than the high minded cinematic indulgence of High Wire or Life Is Sweet. Those records had excellent songs on them, but I found them difficult to digest as wholes. Peddlin' Dreams is full of gentle balladry and enough twang to make me pine for my Lone Justice records. Peddlin' Dreams (and all her work back through Lone Justice) can be purchased through Maria Mckee's website.

2 from Peddlin' Blue:

Bar Stool Blues. Neil Young cover.

Turn Away

10 Comments:

Blogger blithering savant said...

Hey Peter, I stumbled on your blog and was happy to see the first entry was about Maria. I completely appreciated your comments, yet must say that I loved Life Is Sweet much more than I have (so far, anyway) Peddling Dreams. I joked with my friend that she should have called it Life is Not Sweet -- so dark and despairing. Not that I don't relish the twist each time the chorus of People in the Way comes around.

My friend (in LA) reports that her live show was as good as ever. I look forward to catching her at Slims (in SF) next month.

Cheers!

8:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd like to see her at Slims. She really was brilliant last time I saw her.

Pete

5:08 PM  
Blogger Pigman said...

Check out our review of Maria's Roxy show: http://paliughis.blogspot.com/

11:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just got home from seeing her at Iota in Arlington. Unbelievable. Incredible. Her vioce was exquisite and the band was HOT.

9:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maria's voice was in top form at Iota. But due to a guitar mix-up, we got short-changed 2 songs: Sullen Soul & Hang me in Rags. It would've been nice to replace them with Panic Beach & perhaps Breathe. She seems content being a diva - which is fine - but those performances in '85 with the original LJ were incendiary. 93's Sin stop at the old 930 was equally explosive. Two years ago at the Birchmere, she played Rags, Candy's Room & Sweet Sweet Baby. Last night was a bit of a letdown. I was hoping for a little more out of her at the intimate, but rocking Iota. At barely an hour, 2 more songs would've helped soothe me.

4:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can see Maria McKee live at Fabchannel.Com next wednesday!!It starts at 22.00 CET. The whole concert is webcasted and everybody can watch it, for FREE! Both live and on demand it costs nothing. I love Amsterdam.

6:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

saw her show at the Scala in London...awesome...Maria played a bit of being a diva at times, but that's part of how she "is".
after listening to her new album a few times I have to say I love it. actually, the title song (peddlin' dreams) is not one i would recommend, but all other songs are more than just fine...

2:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even back in high school Maria McKee was phenomenal. She had a voice and spirit that just carried you. Glad to know she's back, better than ever.

5:12 PM  
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