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Maiysha

This Much Is True

(Eusonia; US: 26 Aug 2008; UK: Available as import)

Maiysha belongs in your music collection. Armed with a voltaic vocal presence, this Brooklyn-based artist is the antidote to the melissma-dependent kewpie dolls that currently populate the airwaves. Feisty, flirty, and intensely confident, she embodies soul on her own terms without imitating the hallowed Soul Queens of yesteryear, or going the tired retro-soul route that was already a cliché in 2007. What you hear on This Much Is True, her stellar debut, is profound originality.


Sonically, the album is a veritable playground of different personalities with Maiysha’s voice the common link between them. Producer Scott Jacoby knows exactly what each song demands, whether the hand-clap hook on “Gods”, the burlesque trimmings that cloak “Matter of Pride”, or the funky clavinet that bubbles underneath “You Don’t Know”. His august instincts insure the album’s immunity to filler. Save for the bluesy cover of Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” that closes the disc, Maiysha co-writes each of the album’s thirteen tracks. She proves herself an adept lyricist, especially on “U.S.H.”, where she satirizes the fear and hysteria propagated by the U.S. government. Elsewhere, she explores the intense symbiosis of physical attraction and romantic love on “Over My Head” and “Alchemy” to scintillating effect, while serving up a wry take about our culture’s obsession with fame and celebrities on “Celebrity” and “Gods”.


As an album that invites compulsive listening, this much is true about This Much Is True: Maiysha is, unequivocally, among the most vital artists to emerge in 2008.

Rating:

Christian John Wikane is a NYC-based journalist and music essayist. He's a Contributing Editor for PopMatters, where he's interviewed artists ranging from Paul McCartney to Janelle Monae. For the past three years, he's penned liner notes for more than 100 CD re-issues by legends of R&B, rock, pop, dance, and jazz. Since 2008, he's produced and hosted Three of Hearts: A Benefit for The Family Center at Joe's Pub. He is the author of the five-part oral history Casablanca Records: Play It Again (PopMatters, 2009). Follow him on Twitter @CJWikaneNYC. 


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