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Music Review - 'Maze' Ariana Gillis (dm)

Ariana Gillis - Maze

06 May 2019

 

Roger Salloom Album - Hearty

Brent Smith, lead singer of Shinedown, once asserted that “conviction” is the most important quality for music to possess. If the audience cannot feel it – no matter how technically innovative and creative – it will fail as artistic communication.

Ariana Gillis’ new record, “The Maze,” would benefit from more conviction. The young, Canadian singer/songwriter is certainly talented, and she demonstrates impressive command of her voice and her material. It is likely these elements in her music that have earned her the praise of musical luminaries like Bernie Taupin and Buddy Miller, that latter of whom produces “The Maze.”

Most of the songs, despite their consistently strong delivery, suffer from an identity crisis. Gillis has won a Canadian Folk Music Award, and her folk sensibilities are accessible throughout “The Maze,” but at the same time the record make a long reach toward mainstream pop, and even the pop to which the record aspires is unclear, as there is a presence of country-pop affectations that currently dominate Heartland radio. Only a fool would argue that a musician should not experiment with different styles and sounds, and cross over into different genres, but more conviction would prevent the songs on “The Maze” from feeling like they are trying to do and be, too many things at once. Without fully committing to sound, most of “The Maze” is nice; nice as in inoffensive, but also ineffectual.

Notable exceptions include “Slo Motion Killer,” a rock and roll song with swagger, featuring a funky and chaotic sax solo by Jim Hoke, and the beautiful and tender ballad, “Lost With You.”

The majority of “The Maze,” however lives up to its name. It is obvious there is a powerful heart beating beneath this music, but it is too difficult to find.

 
 

 

 David Masciotra

 

 

David Masciotra (www.davidmasciotra.com) is the author of four books, including Barack Obama: Invisible Man (Eyewear Publishing, 2017) and Mellencamp: American Troubadour (University Press of Kentucky, 2015).

To read all of David's reviews, click here 

  


 

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