Album Reviews

Music You Don't Know You Like Yet

MARE WAKEFIELD

Meant To Be

2011-09-14

Nick's Picks: 03 Small Town, Oklahoma; 04 Meant To Be; 07 If We Go, You Go; 12 Dear J.

FCC ALERT: "Squeaky Clean"

Review by Steven "Nick" Nickelson of Mare Wakefield Meant To Be :

A little bit country, a little bit folk, and a lot of talent. That's my take on Mare Wakefield's latest release. She is an instinctive songwriter with a direct lyrical and musical approach. Her view of abandonment (which would normally elicit feelings of sadness, distress, and childhood angst) comes out as an ironically delightful ditty ("Red Dress"). The musical arrangements are as impressive as the songwriting, singing, and playing. And her backing band doesn't hold anything back. Basically, Ms. Wakefield commands dramatic torch songs and breezy pop ditties with equal vigor, bringing a spectacular whimsy to everything she does, adding synthesizer or beautiful harmonies where needed. ("Small Town, Oklahoma", "Meant To Be"). The arrangements and musical writing are aptly matched with lyrics - some of which would earn her a vaunted space on the pillory or witch burning pyre ("When We Go, You Go"); whereas, her turn at the sociopolitic can be whimsical ("Folk Songs (The Recession Song)") or a morosely sad tune ("About The War"). All in all, Mare Wakefield is a talented singer/songwriter/musician with a well-tuned backing band. I have wracked my brain (which didn't take long) trying to find a comparison with her, and I can only thik of a couple - Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan. And that's my two nickels' worth........................Nick

ARTIST BIO:

The girl from Southeast Texas went from playing Oregon coffee shops to headlining major Northwest festivals before a songwriting scholarship brought her to Boston’s Berklee College of Music which boasts alums such as Gillian Welch and Aimee Mann (two of many artists that Mare has been compared to). Mare Wakefield is yet another of those talented writers and performers whose albums tumble into Blabber HQ with increasing regularity. Whether its something in the water or just plain old talent a good percentage of them have a firm grasp on what makes a good album, a good song and the chops to deliver the goods. In the pantheon of female (and this goes for the guys also) performers in the Americana field there are the stars (you know who they are), the hardy perennials who will always get a mention and then the workers at the coalface. Time and again I’m astounded and impressed by the quality of the music produced by people I’ve never heard of, who plough their own field and come up with the goods. Wakefield is yet another one of these. Based in Nashville this is her fifth release. A vibrant and impassioned singer she can deliver straightforward confessional songs then delve into a big band arrangement with sassy horns and a great sense of swing. Wicked is one such song, deliciously salacious it conjures up rain swept neon lit passions while Red Dress has a New Orleans shuffle with stride piano. The central song on the album is About the War where Wakefield sings about her dreams of tending to wounded soldiers and of watching generals, safe behind the lines, drinking fine wines. In a brave move she allows a “long haired hippie from Galilee” to enter her dream to tell her to forgive them but the dream and the wars go on. Reading this one might think of the hippie tendency to regard Jesus as “one of them” but Wakefield avoids any such seventies mawkishness in what is really a very good song. The album ends with the eight minutes long “bonus” of Dear J where Wakefield ditches her fine back up musicians (who include Will Kimbrough and Fats Kaplin, two musicians who seem to be appearing with increasing regularity recently). An open letter in the style of L. Cohen’s Famous Blue Raincoat it’s a wordy recollection of times spent with an old flame, some regretted, an acknowledgement that time moves on and that what was meant to be doesn’t always happen. A great end to what is really quite a fine album. Bio credited to 'Blabber 'N' Smoke website

The Musicians:

・ Mare Wakefield – vocals, acoustic guitar

・ Nomad Ovunc – piano, synthesizers, drums, percussion, backing vocals

・ Jimmy Bowland – saxophone

・ Samantha Hegberg – backing vocals (track 5)

・ Dave Isaacs – electric and accoustic guitar, backing vocals

・ Ryan Joseph – fiddle

・ Fats Kaplin – pedal steel

・ Will Kimbrough – mandolin, electric guitar

・ Scott Miller – electric guitar

The Songs:

Always Valentine

Red Dress

Small Town, Oklahoma

Meant To Be

Folk Songs (The Recession Song)

About The War

If We Go, You Go

Wicked

Roots

Little Blue Flowers and Butterflies

Celestial Blue

Bonus Track (for fans of loooooong ballads) Dear J.

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Compiled by the WYCE Journalism Club

The opinions expressed in these reviews are those of the individual volunteers that submitted the article and do not necessarily reflect the views of WYCE or GRCMC; nor its staff, donors, or affiliates.