Album Review: May Erlewine, “Mother Lion”

Written by Album Reviews, Music

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.

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Mother Lion is currently available

http://mayerlewine.com/#/player1?catid=0&trackid=0