New Music – Mary Middlefield ‘Poetry (For The Scorned And Lonely)’ Album Review

With an orchestral swell, lilting lyricism, and bare blood and bone honesty, this is music sure to pull on your heartstrings to have you reeling in the angelic chorus call resonance of it.

Mary Middlefield is a songwriter equipped with all the right tools. This is a masterclass in music that comes from an electrically charged emotive space but manages to drag the listener by the ear to sit in that fantastic feeling of feelings. It will leave you a little sore at times, static shocks running up and down your limbs, head, and heart, but it’s nice to actually feeling something isn’t it?

The EP tips a little into the album category in our opinion, coming in at 8 tracks, albeit one is an intermission of sorts. It is a breathtaking showcase of the different vibrant colors that make up the kaleidoscopic beauty of Mary Middlefield‘s violently vulnerable sound. There are moments of raw raucous rock’n’roll dialing in to the fuzz and feral fury of artists the likes of PJ Harvey, and there are moments of such silky soft subtlety that allow this perfectly pitched voice to take centre stage, flex wings, and ascend into the stratosphere.

The album kicks off with explosive force with ‘SEXLESS‘. It is a swaggeringly strong start and a standout for the album as a whole. It is intentionally irreverent, with a cheeky dark twist of humor, allowing it to dive a little deeper into the dagger sharp truth that underscores the drunk punk punch of that awesome first line; “I haven’t had sex in the past year, not as bad as it sounds.” This track shows off just how poetic, playful, and powerful a writer Mary Middlefield is, “I met a guy with a tan line on his finger” is a perfect example of the show don’t tell rule and this mature and accomplished approach is continued throughout the album. It just feels good, to hear music that doesn’t hold your hand, in an industry becomingly ever increasingly over simplified.

Musically the track is just as interesting as it is lyrically, with a gruesome growl to the guitar’s tone that wouldn’t be out of place on a Le Tigre track. It doesn’t rely on a single groovy riff though, and as the track grows and evolves it starts to show off just how intricate and interesting the album is going to be musically. The drums don’t really start to slap until the second act, the melodic bend and banter continues with a full orchestra of instrumentation joining the fray and filling in the frenzied sound until you can feel the swell growing from your gut and filling every inch of you. The is masterful musicianship, and every note, twang, tweak, and tickle sends a giddy shiver up your spine.

With the second track ‘ATLANTIS‘ we take the tempo and tone down a little bit to bare the soft skin of something much more gentle. Where ‘SEXLESS‘ was a sad song that slaps with a feel-good energy, ‘ATLANTIS‘ is a lovely love song on the surface, something terrifying and tragic bubbles up from the darkest depths of it. Musically it has this bright twinkling cosmic chorus of a soundscape, that mirrors the infinite scope of the oceanic theme at its core. It is about love, and it is about abuse, it is about losing yourself and it is about finding yourself. The music does take a dive into those depths, but somehow it still feels dreamy, and nice, and you don’t notice where the song is actually taking you until it is too late. This marriage of music and meaning is a trick as close to magic, as music can manage.

ALLODYNIA‘ is a musical interlude that allows the listener a brief breath before continuing this epic quest into the very heart and soul of Mary Middlefield. It has a twinge of dissonance, something sharp and uncomfortable sticking in its paw, but simultaneously delivers a sonorous and soothing instrumental balm that attends to the wounds opened up by the first two tracks. It is a testament to the artistry on display that Mary Middlefield can say and do more with two tracks than most other “artists” fail to do with an entire album.

We are served up another flavour entirely with ‘HEART’S DESIRE‘, it takes the lust and love of the first two tracks and dials up the musky aroma of them to intoxicating levels. Pornographically naked and unabashedly undressed, this track manages to paint a vivid picture of panting, sweat soaked hand prints planted on a desk, and the tender trembling story that purposefully placed them there. Every line delivers heartbreak and headfeels, and every line delivers more depth to the story. It continues to build itself in an instrumental sense with more of that orchestral feel, but there is a juddering jangling riff at its core that bubbles with that rawer energy.

We dip into the second act with ‘LOVE ME LOVE ME NOT‘ which on an album filled with spilling vein open honesty is possibly the most vulnerable moment of all. It does this while again swelling with a major melodic musicality that fills the listener with a dreamy nursery rhyme level joy that masks and muddies the murky water that the lyrics are swimming in. It is phenomenal songwriting and if you take the time to dive into its red hued fugue you will come back up clutching the dismembered limbs of some of the most brutal and beautiful lyrical lines on the album.

YOUNG AND DUMB‘ brings back the grit, guts, and growl of the fuzzy feral side of Mary Middlefield‘s sound. While there is the frenzy and fury in the instrumentation, vocally it provides the bubbling bedrock that Mary‘s voice needs to soar to some of the loftiest heights we have heard so far. Easily navigating from chest to head and back again, it plummets down, and rockets up with galaxial gravitas. The chorus while not delivered with the vocal chord shredding viciousness of a primal punk push, still manages to deliver that same level of intensity, and truth of emotion.

Going back to the other end of the spectrum ‘LAST LETTER (Acoustic Version)’ is simple, subtle, and sublime. The pitch hit with the vocals in the middle of this track is a masterclass and gives you a shuddering shiver every time you hear it. While it starts off straightforward enough with just strings and voice, the soundscape slowly swells with other sounds that sparkle and show off how mesmerizingly well done the production and arrangement is on this project. You could take almost any line in isolation and print it as poetry, Mary Middlefield is a musicians musician, and a writer’s writer.

The EP/Album finale comes in the form of ‘POETRY‘, which was the first track we laid our eager little ears on and beckoned us in to examining the EP as a whole. This is Mary Middlefield at her most candid and cutting lyrically, as she bares all with an awe inspiring honesty. The guitar picking is instantly reminiscent of a faintly remembered dream, it is meloncholic, but beautiful and bouncing with irrefutable good feelings. It is both sad and happy, which in a lot of ways mirrors the themes and tracks of the album as a whole. The intensity ebbs and flows, with a climaxing release in the middle that feels like a kettle letting of steam.

Mary Middlefield has the voice of a goddess, it can be sweet and silky smooth, or as grand and statuesque as the heavens. This EP perfectly showcases the talent behind that voice, whether that be in the writer’s pen, or the orchestral arrangement of each track. Every element of this artistry is elevated to its peak and it is a true delight to get lost in the audial bliss of this explosive emotive journey. The central string that ties it all together is a feeling of being lost and loveless, yet somehow even amongst this heartbreak and misery, there is the faint glimmer of hope and joy.

This review was made possible by SubmitHub.

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