Maia Jelavic. The Less I See.
Maia Jelavic, 2013.
Maia Jelavic: https://www.facebook.com/maiajmusic
Here’s another great album coming out of Australia, a hot seat of music innovation this year especially. While they might share a country, Australia’s a big place with lots of diversity, and Lorde and Jelavic are about as similar as Sydney and Perth. “The Less I See” is a smooth and polished blanket to wrap up in on a day at home with yourself. Skillful picking and soulful vocals make for a short but heartening ride through Jelavic’s world. Woven with love and history from the threads of the English language, this cloth is gown that any artist would be proud to don, but tailored by Jelavic to perfectly fit herself.
Take Me has a honed duet with Jacob Pearson, and harkens to sounds of Joan Baez, possibly her Donavon duets. The duo speak of love and the mystery that it brings in a way that’s palpable to anyone who’s been in love. Next up, the title track accentuates Jelavic’s accent and pairs her with a richer, more full accompaniment which matches her singing skill and replaces her previous vocal partner well. She brings a power that doesn’t diminish her soft lilt in the least. I Fell follows this up with simpler instrumentation but richer words, and brings to life the rushing heart rate and thrill of falling in love. Taking a more playful approach, Don’t Know changes lyrical tone as well as and whirls into a dervish at the joy of surviving a relationship’s end. Don’t Know has the whistle that only comes from knowing that you’ve conquered something you never dreamed. Closing out the set, Grace Brings in the love of a parent for their child, and the pain of losing a child. That pain that just never leaves is heard in the song, and felt in the extended pause after Jelavic stops singing. *Spoiler Alert* At about the 6:30 mark in Grace, guitar and voice picks up again, and finishes the album in a very tenuous and bare tune speaking of “my saving grace.” It’s a great reminder that sometimes the thing that hurts us the most is the thing that makes us who we are; the strongest steel is forged in fire, don’t forget.
Tracks: Take Me (feat. Jacob Pearson), The Less I See, I Fell, Don’t Know, Grace
Dovetailing nicely with the themes of love, strength, and overcoming is a track by Jim Lauderdale, Old Time Angels. In this tune, Lauderdale takes the traditional murder ballad to a new level, by re-imagining the likes of Knoxville Girl, Pretty Polly, and Little Sadie as spirits returned from the grave to take revenge on their killers. It’s not only a technically skilled song and playing, but a powerful song the likes of which is rare today. Old Time Angels gives back the power to these lost lives, and gives strength to those who once had none. How cool a message is that to hear?