Maiysha - This Much Is True

Maiysha
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Those who don't recognize the name "Maiysha" owe it to themselves to do a Google search immediately, along with the words "this-much-is true." The reason? Maiysha is a formidable artist and This Much Is True, her debut for Eusonia Records, is a perfect album.

Intensely personal, eminently melodic, and downright funky in all the right places, This Much Is True heralds the arrival of an artist who injects originality into a musical landscape that's been painted in derivative strokes for far too long. Maiysha's exceptional singing and songwriting, and the hook-laden production by her co-writer Scott Jacoby, is nearly devoid of classification. (AllMusic classifies the album as "rap." Save for a cameo by Bahamadia on "Celebrity," that notion is laughable.) The only box Maiysha checks off, so to speak, is that the music on This Much Is True is good.

Those who don't recognize the name "Maiysha" owe it to themselves to do a Google search immediately, along with the words "this-much-is true." The reason? Maiysha is a formidable artist and This Much Is True, her debut for Eusonia Records, is a perfect album.

Intensely personal, eminently melodic, and downright funky in all the right places, This Much Is True heralds the arrival of an artist who injects originality into a musical landscape that's been painted in derivative strokes for far too long. Maiysha's exceptional singing and songwriting, and the hook-laden production by her co-writer Scott Jacoby, is nearly devoid of classification. (AllMusic classifies the album as "rap." Save for a cameo by Bahamadia on "Celebrity," that notion is laughable.) The only box Maiysha checks off, so to speak, is that the music on This Much Is True is good.

As Executive Producer of the project, Maiysha surrounds herself with individuals who elicit the very best of her singing and songwriting. Scott Jacoby is one of those people. He gives each track a discernable shape and dresses it with a unique sonic design. There's no "sameness" to be found, even within the confines of any given song. "Over My Head," the stunning album opener, begins with understated theatricality. A sea of quasi-operatic vocals backs Maiysha, with a layer of moog and rhodes creating an ethereal atmosphere. Her voice follows a whisper-to-a-scream trajectory before the song takes a dramatic turn towards a Latin-infused electro-based rhythm. The words are sung-spoken in a stream of consciousness cadence, like the quickened pulse that signifies the excitement of newfound love. "Over My Head" is a bold choice to introduce Maiyisha...and it works with considerable amplitude.

For nearly 55 minutes, the momentum never subsides. Maiysha rocks out with abandon on the thrilling "Wanna Be." Emboldened by a guitar riff that would make Jimmy Page proud, Maiysha's rousing performance is predicated upon a kind of friction. "I can go with the flow and turn the tide/I know how to be wrong even when I'm right," she sings, treading the line between ying and yang. With production that alternately simmers and boils, "Wanna Be" takes hold and doesn't surrender its grasp.

Intensity of a more Baroque kind builds throughout "Alchemy." A marching-like drum pattern is laced with cello, violin, and viola while Maiysha questions the laws of attraction - "Is it biology or a blessing from above?" Midway through the song, her voice wordlessly climbs a scale of notes. Here, the tone of her voice defines the meaning of the song: all the wonder, elation, and fear coiled together in the possibility of love.

Turning towards greater socio-cultural issues about our celebrity-saturated culture, Maiysha and Jacoby wrap "Celebrity" and "Gods" in irresistible bass and drum driven instrumentation. The latter, especially, demands to be played loud to be fully appreciated. "Gods" reflects people's aspiration to be idolized and touches on the facades they create to be a star and be worshipped, even if they're devoid of any discernable talent. "If you can't be it, make believe it," Maiysha sings with a knowing wink. A touch of percussion and trumpet adds some spice to one of the most flavorful concoctions on the album.

Perhaps the greatest strength of This Much Is True is that it can be played start to finish without skipping over any of the thirteen tracks. The material here is consistently stellar and the album is sequenced as such that it flows despite the obvious musical differences between the tracks.  The playful seduction of "You Don't Know," (a tasty duet with Martin Luther), for example, leads to the gripping sensuality of "Hold Me," which climaxes with the swirling strings of "Alchemy." The buoyant title track, then, re-centers the album and steers it towards another build-up ("Celebrity" and "Gods").

After playing This Much Is True four times through over the course of 24 hours, I reside with this thought: hundreds of artists release a debut album each year. Only a fraction of those albums make any impact and even fewer of them are uniformly excellent. This Much Is True is above recommendation: it is essential. Welcome Maiysha, we've been waiting for you.

By Christian John Wikane

 
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