Evergreen: a musical coming of age.

I’ve yet to do any sort of media review on here, so I thought what better to start with than my friend Maria’s brand new, freaking fantastic EP. Also, looking to feature incredible women of all sorts. This seemed like a decent beginning.

I had the pleasure of meeting Maria at an audition summer 2016 and of spending the school year getting to know her and growing to consider her a friend. She has much to say on theology, philosophy, and everything in between. She is the most aesthetic person I have yet to meet outside the internet. She is staunchly Orthodox. She has a passion for film. And she will blow your mind.

She is small in stature but large in spirit and faith, brilliant, and the up and coming Lana Del Rey. The girl graduated by age 17, is the songwriter I aspire to be, and just generally astounds me. I had the honor of reading through Maria’s lyric book this year along while also having a few weekly songwriting sessions and where do I begin. I wish I wrote with the maturity that she does. She’s one of those women that you read the lyrics in the cover book of their CD and think, “How did that combination of words create itself?” And there emerges Maria’s EP, “Evergreen.”


If you’d like to listen along to this review, pull up SoundCloud and search “gctsby.” Her profile will pull up and you will have the options of a few singles, an album called January, and an EP called Evergreen. Go ahead and click on Evergreen, you can listen to the rest later.

Sidenote: One of my favourite things about Maria’s albums is she is very deliberate with her album art. Each track has it’s very own photo that goes with it. I have included those below in case you decided to read without listening. But you should do what I did: make a cup of cocoa, curl up on the couch, and listen. If you’re like me and your hair matches the curtains, even better.

Here goes, buckle up.


Track One: tempest
First Impressions — Guitar, echoey vocals, better quality than last album and I’m impressed, slow dance on the rainy day.

Okay, so Tempest. It makes me want to call up The Guitarist and slow dance in the living room. It doesn’t help that I’m listening to this in the midst of a downpour. One of those soft, slow, but makes you think songs that you find yourself listening to repeatedly just because you feel like you always hear a new line in there. This whole EP just vibes the Sixties for me, but maybe that’s my inner Vietnam protester coming out.

I’m not sure what the chord progression is, but it works so well acoustically with the whole feel of the song. It’s strangely comforting and makes you want to love someone wholly, I think.


Favourite Lyrics:

“You took me by the soul and I surrendered without a sound, without a sound.”
“But is temptation sin when it fills it fills you up with fear?”
“I didn’t want to know if I love you enough to let you go, but now I do.”


Track Two: evergreen
First Impressions: soft, whispy, vinyl sound, reminds me of falling in love the first time.

When I have my first child, I will put them to sleep with this song and they will dream of Vincent van Gogh. That’s another thing I love about Maria: her fascination with van Gogh that satisfies my equal fascination.

This song is so soft and poetic with a lullaby feeling behind it. It’s soothing and makes me sleepy, but also enchanted. As weird as it sounds, to me it feels like the audio equal to a watercolor painting. Also, I have a special place in my heart for this track because it was the first taste Maria gave us of what was yet to come. And then blew our minds.

Favourite Lyrics:
“Vincent, come back to me. Forget the yellow sunflowers.”
“Your kiss sighs the song I long to hear and it sings evergreen.

Track Three: numb

First Impressions: unexpected crunch, SIXTIES, BURN MY DRAFT CARD, don’t stop.

Don’t get me started on how much I love “numb.” This song gives me the same nostalgia feeling The Beatles’ “Revolution” and “Come Together” give me. I’m not used to Maria with a crunch, but gosh dang, I love it. I’m used to soft, soulful, 20s jazz Maria and this was a pleasant, unexpected surprise. It’s just so different from January. (Listen to January next.) I’ve played it over and over.

This is one of those songs in which I say, “Dang, I wish my word patchworking was this good” about halfway through. I don’t even know what else I want to say on this song because I just want to go listen to it 8 more times. A+ to Karl for his guitar and bass on this track — thank God for brothers.


Favourite Lyrics
:
“Where you could never learn to lie. You’d cozy up with the truth in a bed in which you lie–d to me.”
“Just remember when we kissed til our lips were black and blue. When we said we were in love and it still tasted like the truth.”
“Let me know that I’m a pretty sight to see.”


Track Four: strawberry fields
First Impressions: the Maria I know, lullaby like, Lana Ultraviolent vibes.

Another song to rock the baby to. This track feels like the Maria I know to me. Also like an interlude track of Lana Del Rey’s “Ultraviolent.” Kind of lilting and hypnotic. That’s a good way to describe her voice: hypnotic.

Strawberry Fields is simply just pretty. But also makes you think. Maria has included all the lyrics in the description of each song. I would recommend you read them. I don’t know how she comes up with the sentences she uses to tell her stories but wow.


Favourite Lyrics
:
“Dusk threw down his deathly dust.”
“And by morning we found that Eden had grown while we were dreaming.”
“I was planted by whiskey and watered by fear.”


Track Five: ghost

First Impressions: Ed Sheeran beat, makes me want to cook, new for Maria.

Ghost also felt really different to me in contrast to January. It’s upbeat, but also kind of sad. It reminds me of Ed Sheeran, the pattern and use of guitar. Which is the music I listen to when I cook or bake. Which happens rarely, but still. Now I want to eat something.

I find sad or sad-ish, but upbeat songs fascinating. The concept of conflicting emotions, I think. Maybe putting on a mask; or pulling one off. This is one of those songs for me. I think it’s fairly successful too; makes you want to dance around and sway a little while pushing someone away.


Favourite Lyrics
:
“Isn’t this numbness enough to let you know that I’m trying not to love you?”
“I’ve wept my bitter tears and finally found the truth: that I need to stop being haunted by you.”


Track Six: holy.

First Impressions: YES, got to hear this first maybe, one of my Maria favourites, another rainy day in a flat feel, ADORE the chorus.

Okay, okay. I first heard this track right after Maria wrote it, straight out of her handwritten songbook, in a side classroom at school. I love it. I LOVE it. It gets stuck in your head, makes you happy, and a little more in love with your person or with life. (Shoutout to The Guitarist: I love you.) This is another one of her songs that makes me want to be a better writer.

It’s just so good. Theological themes and terms in relation to love pop up a lot throughout Maria’s work and this is yet another of them. God is holy and so is pure love. Singing this should make you want to love harder.


Favourite Lyrics:

“We’ll show them what innocence can be: peaceful kisses just on cheeks.”
“Every painting becomes a masterpiece seen through lover’s eyes, seen only in a dream.”
Track Seven: numb {acoustic}
First Impressions: didn’t know I needed this, such different vibe from original but holy gosh, I just love the vocal tone so much, “kissed til lips were black blue,” meant to start EP over again but accidentally listened to final track 6 times oops.

Remember how much I wrote about loving “numb” before? Multiply that by 10. Oh, Lordy Lordy.
I listened to this 8 times today. I can’t get enough. There’s something to this song acoustically that just blows even the original out of the water. Back to slow dancing, have you ever listened to a song and had it make you feel like the most beautiful woman/man and wanted to dance with the person you love, even if it’s not necessarily a lovey/happy song? This one does it for me.

There’s just something about it. The gravelly tone of her voice. The laid back guitar vibe. The sway it makes your body fall into. It’s glorious. I’m going to go listen to it for the 10th time now because it played again while I wrote.
When I asked Maria if I could write up a quick review (to which she said yes), I thought I’d ask her if she had anything she’d like to say as well. She brought this up today when I asked for lyrics, to which I asked the question.

Me: “Is there anything you’d like people to know, inspiration wise or just anything in general, that I can include?”

Maria: “Well, I wanted to prove to at least myself that I could do many things and broaden my musical output, which is why some of the tracks are so different from what I’ve previously released. I didn’t want Evergreen to just be a continuation of January, though I wanted it to be clearly my own work. I guess that’s something.”

If this was the goal, she certainly succeeded. Evergreen is starkly different from January in many ways and yet it comes into its own. Crunch, maturity, and softness combined: Evergreen has grown up. The world needs more women of courage of every sort to express themselves as fully as Maria does on this EP.

It is my belief that the best fans should support their favourite artists throughout genre changes, people changes, and general growth, whether it’s their personal favourite or not. It should become a celebration of growth and finding yourself, of testing new waters. With that said, I look forward to the next Maria Louise album or EP with anticipation knowing that whatever it is will be the entryway to a beautiful new era.

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