Thu, Apr 17, 2014 - Page 11 News List

Classical CD reviews

Riverside, by Riverside; Make My Head Sing ..., by Jessica Lea Mayfield.

By Nate Chinen and Jon Pareles  /  NY Times News Service

Mayfield played guitars and produced the album with her bassist and husband, Jesse Newport, backed by a drummer, Matt Martin. With Mayfield often playing baritone guitar, lowering the pitch of the central guitar chords, they put a feedback-edged grunge power trio at the core of the songs: the sound of trouble, obsession, foreboding, decadence. But Mayfield doesn’t rasp like a flannel-shirted rocker; her voice stays clear and oddly calm as she sings lines like, “When it’s just us two in the dark/You’ve got a stranglehold on my heart.”

As a whole, the album is monochromatic, too single-minded about Mayfield’s new sound — and, at times, a little too determined to reverse-engineer Nirvana’s flanged guitar effects. And her laconic new lyrics don’t always offer the subtleties and paradoxes of her earlier songs.

But individual tracks are telling. Among them are I Wanna Love You, which is more about stalking than romance; Do I Have the Time, which charges into a polymorphous wilderness of desire and infidelity; Party Drugs, a hollow-eyed ballad set to a lone guitar in which the singer reassures someone, “I won’t die in this hotel room”; and Anything You Want, with a heaving riff and a girlish-voiced, matter-of-factly foreboding refrain: “You get away with anything you want.”

Make My Head Sing ... probably doesn’t stake a permanent new direction for Mayfield. It signals, instead, that from now on she’ll do whatever she wants.

— By Jon Pareles, NY Times News Service

This story has been viewed 2745 times.

Comments will be moderated. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned.

TOP top