It’s good when a fellow musician gives a shout out to an up and coming star. Seasick Steve achieved fame when he was given a chance to perform on Jools Holland’s show in the UK, and then his career exploded. So when the bluesman describes Mary Spender as ‘one to watch’, it feels like he’s giving her the opportunity which he also received – to show what she can do to a wider audience.
Mary deserves this because listening to new EP Faux Americana is a genuine pleasure which shows off her talent and progression from earlier releases such as The Eclectic EP. Blues Duet kicks off proceedings, and shows off a talent for the melancholy that wouldn’t feel out of place on one of Sheryl Crow’s early records. The vocals step up and fall down in a rhythmic fashion that really help the song create something unique. “When would I have time to cheat, you were always calling or texting me” – if you ever wondered how to get sarcasm into a song, just ask Mary.
Fugitive is the most pop track on the EP and gives off sweet sounds against a background of nicely layered instruments – less is more here and she uses emptiness to great effect. What really stands out however is track Paperback. Its resonant riff glides over clever vocals and the way it plays around innocently with melodies is something that Norah Jones would be proud of. It’s one of those songs that would sit perfectly in your headphones on a long train journey home from work, leaving you refreshed and happy as you reach your destination.
Melancholy Parade finishes off the EP nicely. It was originally written by Mary when she was 16 for a heavy metal band, and shows off how skilled Mary’s song writing ability is, in that it works equally well in different genres. The stronger attitude in the lyrics actually sits well over a softer melody and gives the EP something a little bit different.
The Bristol based Singer-songwriter has come on leaps and bounds with Faux Americana. With its added invention and twists and turns it will leave the listener wanting more, and looking forward to a full record, hopefully in the not too distant future.