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MAIA SHARP Echo (2010)

Maia Sharp

Maia Sharp may not be a name that is familiar to you, but you will be familiar with the lady's music as a songwriter / collaborator with the likes of The Dixie Chicks (Home), Bonnie Rait, Cher, Trisha Yearwood, Art Garfunkel, Lisa Loeb, Paul Carrack (the wonderful It Goes Without Saying from his Beautiful World album), Amanda Marshall and Kim Ritchey, to name but a few of the luminaries she's written for or worked with.

You might also notice something of a trend amongst those artists - principally American and predominantly adult radio friendly artists. Which is no surprise because Maia was brought up on a staple diet of 'classic' singer songwriters such as Joni Mitchell and Jackson Browne. And that's exactly where Maia sits in the rock jukebox.

Echo is the follow up to her excellent Fine Citizen album (2005), and it largely follows the same blueprint adopting the 'if it ain't broke' principle, but this time with Don Was in the producer's seat and supported by a stellar cast including stalwart Jim Keltner on drums.

The album opens with Death By Perfection, one of the standout tracks on which Bonnie Rait guests. That track and Unbreakable have, at times, an almost mid-career Judie Tzuke feel to them (although that lady has latterly moved on to explore new pastures). Whole Flat world adds a light twist of jazz with some excellent Steely Dan style sax from Maia. Polite Society adds a smidgeon of Beatles pop to the mix, but here and elsewhere the adult originated singer songwriter soft rock is the order of the day with a splash of country here and a hint of country there.

It's another consistently strong set, perhaps only missing a killer track that would generate major radio play. If there's a concern, it's that there's whole new bunch of contenders on the block - Diane Birch, being a prime example. But there's always going to be a market for quality singer songwriters, so expect Maia Sharp to still be around when many of the pretenders have faded to grey.


Review by Pete Whalley


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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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