(4 / 5)
Debut album from Norway’s promising singer and songwriter Maria Brym; “More Like You” delivers nine songs that have a foot in a retro folk/easy listening/pop camp, but would be perfectly at home too on a BBC Radio 2 playlist of today.
Maria’s Kate Bush and 80s pop influences sit at the core of this set perhaps, penning the lyrics herself across the set. Maria has production team Bard Berg – producer and drummer who is a rising star in Oslo, where he is part of the modern wave of house artists mixing fluid, smooth beats with sharp pop instincts – and Anders Egil Meyn Jensen in her corner for this project. Anders playing all instruments and taking on the programming.
Maria has written for emerging artists in sessions and on songwriter camps, and she studied songwriting in London. She has toured Sweden, Denmark and Germany and was an active part of Oslo’s musical underground with previous band projects.
In May this year she released the first single from the album, “Locked Down Loneliness”, track seven. Nice song, but there are still so many Covid/Panedemic/Lockdown tracks still coming out two-plus years since all that horror and turmoil, that it turns me right off.
I think there should be a cut off point for songwriters writing about how they felt in those dark and uncertain times. Please. I cannot be the only person who feels the same, surely? There’s enough going on in the world every day to depress the hell out of us, without these reminders of that bleak time – a time that may well come back if current news reports of the latest strain of the virus are accurate. Just saying…
The swooning soprano vocal holds the attention from the off with the opening track, “Dawn”. Falsetto in a Kate Bush and Sally Oldfield vibe, on a very nice song, with minimal electronic backing. There seems to be a distortion on the piano and across the track for some reason; maybe the producers think it gives it a retro vibe.
“Melt Into The Bright Lights” continues with the ethereal approach and conjures up mental images of mountains, lakes, snow and ice glistening in the sunshine. “King Winter” had me recalling the likes of Claanaad and like a lot of this record, there’s a Celtic feel to it, which adds value.
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Track four, “Lost Into Gold” moves away from the pretty, chilled ambient style to a rockier/poppier mood, which gives the set some light and shade. Title cut “More Like You”is very Kate Bush and back to the chilled vibes. Last track, the strangely titled “Misanthropic Lullaby”, includes spoken word delivered by Michael Dwyer reciting “Howl”. never been a fan of spoken word at all.
This is a very well put together album, snug fit production and a talented singer. For some it will be an acquired taste, a so-called Marmite moment with the vocals in that high end of the register [dramatic soprano] for the majority of the record, and an unashamedly similarity to Ms Bush.
I would like to hear Maria again, but with a bigger range for her voice and less emphasis on the vocalising/ethereal side of things. [There is probably a West End or Broadway musical with her name on it one day.]
With Christmas soon upon us and no doubt the colder weather – and this year they talk about a good possibility of a white Christmas in the UK – this would make the perfect stick this on as your soundtrack, maybe…
Review by Amelia Hill
(2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
(3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’