Country-folk troubadour undermined by crummy production
“Lo-fi” is a term designed for records like this. Possessed of an expressive if not especially powerful voice, Kate Maki sings tunes that evoke heartbreak, longing and disappointment—not necessarily in that order—to the accompaniment of a range of instrumental sounds. Apart from the expected guitars and piano, there are contributions from accordion and organ, as well as harmonized vocals on nearly every track.
Despite the sonic variety, there is a thinness to the recording that homogenizes the overall sound, which brings us back to that “lo-fi” thing. “The Signal” is a somewhat dirgelike tune that suffers from weak production, and the same could be said for any numbers of songs here. The snare drum on “Shine On My Mind” is annoyingly trebly, while the harmony vocals featured on “Boredom Blues” sound like they’re coming over the phone. Okay that’s an exaggeration. But not by much.
All is not lost: “When I Go” is a great song, notwithstanding its haphazard—or deliberately low-tech—production. Overall, however, the tinniness of the sound contributes to the feeling that the songs are being played in the next room over. This lends a certain immediacy to the affair, but it also robs the record of much sonic warmth. It’s too bad; Maki has a flair for this music, and she deserves a better hearing.