Maia Sharp: Reckless Thoughts (Crooked Crown Records) – Album Review
Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
Singer/Songwriter Maia Sharp has been doing it a long time. This is her 30th year in the music biz. Although not a household name yet, she has made many significant contributions in her own solo career as well as working with other artists. Reckless Thoughts is Maia’s ninth solo effort. Along with those releases, Maia has worked with many well established artists such as Cher, Trisha Yearwood, Terri Clark, Bonnie Raitt, Edwin McCain, and Art Garfunkel. That’s a pretty impressive list of artists.
The Nashville based songwriter has really outdone herself on Reckless Thoughts. I always struggle trying to describe someone’s musical work via the written word. It’s my job to share and expose readers to music that they might not otherwise know about. However, writing about a particular sound is a challenge. Maia doesn’t make it any easier because her musical style defies genres and is completely original. There are traces of yacht rock, adult contemporary, alternative, country, and pop. That’s the best I can do and I don’t think that description really does this release the proper justice it is due. I guess you all will just have to give it a listen.
A catchy song has many different methods to get the claws in you. There are prophetic words, vocals, harmonies, and pop hooks. On Too Far Now, it is the seductive, dreamy saxophone that really sets that hook and lodges it deeply in the listeners ear. It an absolutely sublime sound that is like a drug or a warm blanket on a cool crisp evening. It’s soothing and comforting and a feeling that you don’t want to end.
Well written songs leave the door open for multiple interpretations. That’s what separates the great songwriters from the good ones. Maia’s writing style on Too Far Now is vague and will definitely have different interpretations. To me, this song is about taking risks. It seems to be framed in the context of a romantic relationship, but Maia left that space open so each listener can personalize it. If there is one take away for me, it is this – address your fears head on. Maia teaches me that if I am fearful, I should run forward, not backward.
Another song that builds on this theme of taking risks and addressing your fears and concerns head on is She’ll Let Herself Out. It can be interpreted in many ways. A very heady description of not selling ourselves short. Being true to ourselves and living our best and most honest life. Life seems long, but as we get closer to the endgame, the lifeline gets smaller. Why on earth should we compromise our values and our life philosophy to make someone else happy? What takes many people years of therapy to figure out, Maia Sharp nailed it in four minutes and eight seconds. It’s a lot cheaper to listen to her wisdom and music on the album than paying $150 plus per hour, once a week to a therapist.
Moving is a tough thing to endure. On may levels, moving can be one of the most stressful and difficult life events that someone can go through. Maia tackles this subject head on with California. She made the move from Cali to Nashville many years ago. Her account of that process is very real and translatable. Of course there is some second guessing that goes on. But in the end, Maia comes to the conclusion that the move was necessary and changed her life for the better.
Don’t let the soft instrumentation and dreamy voices fool you. Under the beautiful cover of music, there is an album that is raw and a pretty far departure from status quo and mainstream. While the music is easy, the words are challenging and thought provoking. Those contradictions result in an album that is vital and a keeper for this year and into the future.
Listen to Reckless Thoughts here.