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Maple Bee - Home
Wednesday, July 01 2009 @ 03:00 AM PDT
Contributed by: Sage


Artist: Maple Bee United Kingdom

Title: Home

Label: Prikosnovenie France

Genre:  Pop Folk / Folk Rock / Faery Music

01 While you were Sleeping
02 Quiet the Silent World
03 Me and Rose
04 Mirror
05 No Place
06 Queen 23
07 I want it All
08 Sweetness in your Light
09 Somebody Take me Home
10 So Far from Lost
11 This Face this Name

Our dear little bee, how pleased we are that you've returned to us with your unique blend of folk pop!  With “Hello Eve”, it was pretty apparent that she was long departed from her time in the Medieval Babes, and truth be told, we couldn't be happier with the result from such a fracture.  The artwork for this release says a lot about the music found within.  Hello Eve brought us somewhat of an overly-artistic approach to the music, an almost childish allure that went along with much of Prikosnovenie's faery ideologies.  However, with Home, just as with the artwork, we're seeing a much more casual and adult realm of sound.  The music is thoughtful, personal, and beautifully laid back, but still features moments of her youthful playful nature as can be seen from her surprisingly attractive photograph with the umbrella.  This release is definitely full of tracks that could easily receive radio airplay on mainstream stations, but don't let that pull you apart from the fact that Home is a great album that is still staying true to Maple Bee's roots even as it departs more into more accessible sound.  The folk stronghold is definitely evident.

The opening track here certainly appears to be the song that will receive airplay as a single if any.  While you were Sleeping features a very personal lyrical value as do much of the tracks on the album, but features perhaps one of the catchiest chorus lines to be found in the Prikosnovenie catalog in the past few years.  Upbeat drums, flowing bass and synth lines lost in the background of the music, and incredibly uplifting lyrics pull the listener into a frame of mind that gets them thinking as well.  There's a slight ethereal / shoegaze quality found in the bridge as well with a buzzing guitar note being held out, a sound found in much of the Love Spirals Downwards albums that Projekt brought to light.  From here, we depart into numerous tracks that feature much of the same acoustic-guitar folk pop that has been described, but this isn't a ballad album by any means.  Nearly every song features moments of rock, but they also almost always pull back into the personal textures.  She won't let you drift away.  She wants you close, close enough to hear every slip of the finger across those steel strings.  And it makes for a fairly intimate experience with the singer-songwriter.  Tracks like “Me and Rose” can even take you down to music that borders the likes of Rasputina, if that gives you any clue to what you'll find here. 

Another unique aspect is the fact that Maple Bee continuously refuses to fall prey to the tedious vocal lines that we hear in this sort of folk pop today.  She doesn't soar her voice into heights that are simply ridiculous, nor does she follow a monotonous tone consistently through choruses for sake of holding onto the flow.  The vocal lines mix up the music and keep it interesting.  You can hear this in Mirror and it reminds somehow of lighter tracks in A Perfect Circle's debut 'Mer de Noms', but also features a jazzy rhythmic side and a feminine “do-do-do” bridge. The song-writing all the way through this album continues to be ace.

There are is only one real downside to this album, and that's the fact that the mastering didn't go far enough to edit out or at least de-volume the finger-scratching along the steel strings that is inevitable for acoustic guitar players.  There are measures that can be taken to reduce these sounds in the production process and it sounds like in most of the tracks it was successful, but several throughout host blatantly loud scratches that take your brain out of the music.  At least most musicians will catch this rather quickly and won't be able to shake it.  It should be said also that you should listen for the interesting keyboard melodies in the background of most songs.  Its easy to overlook as it adds to the melodic structure of the tracks rather than being its own instrumental part, but is certainly worth hearing.

Apart from the music of this album, its unique how the two sisters that are Melanie Garside (Maple Bee) and KatieJane Garside went two separate directions but shared some of the same success.  Without being sure of what kind of household these two grew up in, they both grew up to be remarkable artists though I must say that I'm infinitely happy that Maple Bee decided to stay more inhibited and innocent than her sister had in Queenadreena, but that's for another article, another time.  Enjoy the beauty of this music, of Home, because as authentic as it is, it is scarcely seen in even its own genre these days.  The title says so much more than is evidently clear from the beginning, because it brings us all back to a part of our hearts that we don't look into these days.  It does take us home.


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