Actress and musician Maya Hawke is someone who, in the past few years, has come to prominence in a big way. Best known currently for playing Robin in the astronomically big Stranger Things, she released her debut album Blush in the midst on the pandemic in 2020. Prior to that, her song A Boy To Love gained a lot of traction, and to this day remains one of her most streamed songs. She has returned now with her sophomore record, MOSS.
The album opens with Backup Plan, a striped-back but instrumentally rich folk tune, that is carried along by Maya’s soft, raspy vocals. Lyrically, she talks of wanting to be all the items and metaphorical things that the target of the song might be looking for. There’s an innocence to the sound of it, but a darker undertone that is explored further on in the record. Followup Bloomed Into Blue plays like a bard’s tale of fantasy, Maya talking of a baby leaving her mother and growing wings to grow as she flies. Comparisons can be made to growing up and adapting to life, but it also retains a vagueness that most great legends have.
Musically, MOSS keeps its sound consistent throughout. Sweet Tooth begins with a distorted drum machine building momentum, while softly played acoustic and distant electric guitar hold the melody. Will Graefe provides a beautiful back and forth vocal on Crazy Kid, dipping in and out for his own line, while providing gravitas to Maya’s with perfect harmonies. The guitars of lead single Thérèse meld with the plucked banjos, while piano and cello add depth. Revered drenched, distorted guitars on the bridge, followed by the ridged drums on the backend, make the song one of the most unique on the album.
MOSS is an interesting record from someone very early on in their music career. Experience and honesty seep from every vocal and instrumental, despite the provider of these feelings being only 24 years of age. It brings to mind the early years of Joni Mitchell, who herself was chastised for writing of experiences supposedly beyond her years. Here, Maya taps into emotions that everyone can relate to, while also chronicling what she is going through in a brilliantly mature way. It feels like an album that Maya didn’t simply want to make, but needed to make.
Writer and Musician, Ryan Bulbeck has been published with a number of online publications, and has worked with a myriad of great artists, both as a performer, and as a producer. His most recent band The 295 are still active, playing shows around the UK.