Maryland (featuring Maria Neckam): 55

Track

55

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Maryland (featuring Maria Neckam)

CD

Crossing and Blending (Stemra)

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Musicians:

Maria Neckam (vocals),

Franz von Chossy (piano), Valdi Kolli (bass), Uli Genenger (drums), Niti Ranjan Biswas (tabla)

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Composed by Maria Neckam

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Recorded: Amsterdam, 2007

Albumcovermaryland-crossingandblending

Rating: 95/100 (learn more)

During a recent trip to New York, I wandered into the cellar of an Italian eatery just off Washington Square, where I was fortunate to discover an enigmatic young singer-composer named Maria Neckam. It wasn't just the unaffected clarity or refreshing timbre of her voice, nor her remarkable range that captured my imagination; it was the fearless integrity of her musical ideas.

A Viennese expatriate who now calls Brooklyn home, Maria has broken the mold in many ways, and admits that people either love or hate her voice. I would say that, if you have an extensive Britney Spears record collection, you're not likely to be a huge fan. For the rest of us, there's no denying the purity of her pipes or the control of her technique. The tone of her voice suggests a violin with a hint of soprano sax coloration and no hint of affectation. She writes quirky, provoking, poetic lyrics. Some of her compositions have a decided Weill-Brechtian flavor, as if written for a 21st-century Threepenny Opera.

This particular track offers a wistful, spirited head over a Latin 5/4 feel with tasty Indian tabla texturing. There are no lyrics to divert attention from her unique voice as it glides above a Lydian dreamscape, backed by an assured, tight group of multinational musicians. The recording is vibrant, the playing strong and intuitively supportive.

"How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?" wrote Oscar Hammerstein about another Austrian songbird named Maria. The answer is simply…don't. Just open your mind and enjoy.

Reviewer: Bill Barnes

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