# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Mary Brett Lorson - Themes from Whatever

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 15 / 4 / 2018

Mary Brett Lorson - Themes from Whatever
Label: Mary Brett Lorson
Format: CD


First-rate elenth album from Mary Lorson, who best known for her work with Madder Rose and Saint Low, reaches a career high with this set of ten new songs

Sometimes whatever it is you are searching for is right in front of you. 3 a.m. and another sleepless night, you fumble in the dark to find either some new music in the hope that it will touch you and get you through the night or grab one of those albums that have been with you all your life and never let you down. Except just recently they have. The magic in the music hasn’t just suddenly gone but the spark is temporarily not there. It’s just not reaching out and touching you as it once did. So, it’s got to be some new music then, something that just might rekindle that flame. There’s been an embarrassment of not good but great music released over the last twelve months, so there’s plenty to choose from but you still feel whatever you listen to it’s not quite getting to you this particular morning. Mary Lorson’s eleventh album ‘Themes from Whatever’ has been in the pile for a while now. With so much good music about for some reason it’s never made it to the top despite fond memories of the music Mary made with Madder Rose and Saint Low. With the new breed of female singer-songwriters ever expanding, Mary Lorson wasn’t so much as abandoned more merely forgotten about in the deluge. So tonight, in the hope that Mary can still weave some musical magic, ‘Themes from Whatever’ is popped in the player. Ten songs, all originals written at different times and in different moods, we are informed, which is what inspired the title. Four of the songs formed part of Mary’s musical memoir ‘Signals’ which did the rounds in America last year; if the rest of ‘Signals’ was half as good as the four tasters on this album then those who missed the shows missed out on something really special. And here’s another regret to add to the list; if ‘Themes from Whatever’ had been given a play earlier, if faith had been a little stronger and an ageing memory had not forgotten just what a remarkable vocalist and songwriter this musician is, if there hadn’t been so much great competition from newcomers then this writer would have discovered a lot sooner that with this album Mary Lorson has created a career high. Mary’s vocals are not the first thing that draw you into this album but hearing Mary’s distinctive voice after all this time is heartwarming. It sounds a little lighter, almost more innocent than remembered, while it’s lost none of its charm and reminds the listener immediately why we used to hold this singer in such high regard. There were few singers to compare her to back in the Madder Rose days and even fewer now. Maybe because these tracks were written over a longer period of time than usual and during different periods of her life the end result is a diverse set of songs touching on a myriad of musical bases. Yet somehow the whole album holds together as a set piece. It’s not what was expected (After all this time what did we expect?) but it’s sure what this set of ears needed. There’s an uplifting vibe to the album, for the most part. The opening song, ‘Ender’, is a dream of a pop song; a floating, ghostly voice drifts by accompanied by music that sounds slightly otherworldly and childlike for some reason. It’s immediately captivating; a gorgeous melody and an indication which grows throughout the album of the small but all so important little musical touches that form an essential part of these recordings. There are sounds weaving in and out of the songs, fleeting little noises scattered here and there which say just as much as Mary’s lyrics or the lead guitar parts. This opening song is irresistible, full of space and texture and the perfect re-introduction to Mary Lorson’s vocals after all this time. The childlike quality, which is a major part of its charm, is characteristic of the whole album. But it’s not just Mary’s lead vocals that shine on the album. If you can get past the beauty of ‘Ender’ you’ll discover that the background vocals, sometimes wordless but still so effective, are as compelling as Mary’s lead vocals. It appears that Beverly Stokes, guitarist Anna Coogan and Jen Middaugh can take some of the credit for this. It’s a heavenly choir for sure. Even when the song is shorn of any childlike wonder and toughens up as on ‘He Had A Way’, a smoldering soul-tinged burner, the background vocals are stunning. As with all the songs on this album there are so many layers to each track to discover and appreciate, just one reason why it stands up to and demands repeated plays. Co-producer (with Mary) of the album Michael Stark’s organ playing is another reason why these songs are so special. His keyboards lift the songs wrapping the listener in the sound. ‘The King of All Tricks’ is another soulful track that displays just how good the background vocals are and where Stark’s keyboard work is outstanding; to hear the organ take such a major role in songs is not so common right now and a breath of fresh air. Again there are sounds that only filter through after a number of plays; these are songs that not only mix light and shade and shift shape continuously but which are also instantly accessible. Songs of depth that once heard will not be forgotten. The title track finds Mary on one of the more pop-based songs like the opening cut. Again there’s this childlike wonder surrounding the song, the fairground organ is uplifting and. oh, those vocals. ‘Ding (Our Time Is Up)’ finds Mary exploring a jazzier path and slowing things down slightly; piano-based with those little sonic additions and background vocals really stealing the show even though Mary turns in a remarkable vocal performance and Stark’s keyboard once more making a major impression. ‘Les Nuages Bloquent Le Soleil’ is Mary taking on Francoise Hardy, not just in language but also in the overall sound of this short song and coming out on top; it’s an unexpected diversion in an album that is full of surprises but works well. In many ways ‘Daddy, We Hardly Knew Ye’ is the centerpiece of the album. Once more the tempo is slowed down and, while the song is shorn of the immediately accessible pop leanings of some of the songs, there’s depth to this song and again the arrangement and layers of the song ensure that repeated playing is not only rewarding bit throwing up new sounds every time. ‘Themes from Whatever’ is impossible to categorise; Mary doesn’t just straddle genres but creates a new one here; this album is truly like no other, there’s so much to discover in each song and it’s not just for those who have enjoyed Mary Lorson’s music in the past as here she has broken new ground. ‘Themes from Whatever’ is adventurous, accessible and essential listening; it’s not just the best Mary Lorson album but is making a good case for the best album in recent months.

Track Listing:-
1 Ender
2 He Had a Way
3 The King of All Tricks
4 Theme from Whatever
5 Ding (Our Time Is Up)
6 Les Nuages Bloquent Le Soleil
7 Daddy, We Hardly Knew Ye
8 Friend in Nashville
9 Time Is on My Side
10 Brothers and Sisters

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