This tenth (!) album from Michigan native May Erlewine isn’t (as one might guess) something you would usually find on my playlist, but every now and then, a welcome change is needed and you have to get out of the wheelhouse. Two years in the making, Ms. Erlewine put a lot of heart, soul and thought into this collection of songs; it is, indeed, different than what I tend to musically ingest but there’s a lot of warmth here to make me enjoy it in a proper, organic fashion. And I can appreciate the fact that Ms. Erlewine is a member of the Earthwork Music Collective, a group of independent artists who share resources and talents to raise both community and self-awareness, along with facilitating and encouraging original music in the state of Michigan. It’s a positive thing – to see a musician who acts as part of a greater whole. And if that isn’t enough, she also fronts a seven-piece band called The Motivations, so it’s a sure bet her energies know no bounds.
Nonetheless, Mother Lion is the focus here; opening with “Wild”, which is a sweet and soft piece. Ms. Erlewine’s voice is instantly soothing and the melody is rich and haunting; “Hurricane” is a semi-country shuffle with tight, multilayered harmonies and some very tasteful guitar fills. One immediate production note is that Ms. Erlewine’s vocals are dry; it works with these songs and don’t need any kind of treatment with effects. “Fine Line” is a simple, direct number with an interesting drum pattern and a powerful message in the lyrics. “Never One Thing” has the markings of a “single” – while this isn’t lightweight, pop fluff, you can imagine hearing this on radio; the guitar figures on “Paint The Town” are quiet and subdued and along with the vocals, keeps this song from any kind of dramatic build-up; only towards the latter part of the song does there come a piano and bass with some very light percussive flourishes – possibly the album’s standout track. And the beauty of “Your Heart” is a perfect way to close the album; again, sweetness prevails along with harmonies, melody and precision – all tastefully understated and uplifiting.
For someone who now has ten albums to her credit, it seems May Erlewine still has a drive; a desire to paint her songs with full color. The passion she has for her songs are clearly conveyed in listening, because this album has a lot of heart and it succeeds in making you feel.
Mother Lion is currently available