Maya Rae – Can You See Me
Format: CD – Digital
Label: Black Hen Music
Releasedatum: 24 april 2020

The uncertainties of first love. Misgivings about a friend’s choices. Thoughts that come and go. The best music has the power to illuminate a moment in time more vividly than anything else. A song, well played and passionately sung, has a life of its own that goes beyond genre and temporary musical fashion. The songs on Maya Rae’s new release, Can You See Me? – like those on Joni Mitchell’s Blue or Tracy Chapman’s self-titled debut album – are timeless and universal.

Poised at the crossroads between innocence and experience, Maya’s voice communicates with an immediacy and commitment that most artists never attain. In an age when so much music feels overproduced and lacking in genuine emotion, Maya’s songs come like a breath of fresh air. Vital, committed and uplifting, Can You See Me? is the real deal.

Because she’s been singing professionally since the age of twelve, recorded her first album of jazz and classic pop standards at thirteen, and has gone on to sing with some of the biggest names in Canadian jazz, it’s understandable that much of what’s been written about Maya has focused on how much she’s accomplished at such a young age. And, even though she’ll be just shy of 18 when Can You See Me? is released, the quality of the music speaks for itself. Confident and vulnerable, soulful and revealing, the songs on her new album are as impressive as you will hear anywhere.

Maya and her brother, Gabriel, started writing songs together in the summer of 2018. Inspired by classic singers like Carole King and Nina Simone, iconic performers such as The Beatles and Joni Mitchell as well as modern-day artists like Ed Sheeran and Adele, Maya felt ready to record an album of original material.

That’s where veteran roots musician and producer, Steve Dawson came in. On the strength of the demo she sent him, Dawson invited Maya to come to Nashville, saying that he had time to record the very next week. She flew down a few days later and almost immediately found herself at Black Hen Studio, surrounded by some of the hottest young musicians in Nashville that Steve had gathered to collaborate with Maya on the new material.

Recorded live off the floor with a group that included Kai Welch, (keyboards/trumpet) Jamie Dick (drums), John Estes (bass) as well as JT Nero and Allison Russell from Birds Of Chicago on supporting vocals and Dawson on guitars, Maya required just one vocal retake during the whole session, and following five days of intense recording Can You See Me? is the spellbinding result.

In Maya’s words, Can You See Me? became a tribute to human cooperation and the merging of artistic visions with all the contributions from the musicians coming together. But, as good as the music supporting Maya is, her voice and songs are always the central focus. Melodically challenging, lyrically compelling and beautifully phrased, Maya’s songs reflect on experiences with an insight one would usually expect from a much more seasoned performer.

“All of the songs are relevant to my own life. The title track, ‘Can You See Me?’ is about choosing to remove the masks we wear to reveal our true selves. Sometimes we feel the need to hide ourselves, so this song is about not being afraid to be who we truly are. ‘New For Me’ is about my first love and trying to figure out my emotions. Having never been in love before, it was hard to know how and what I ‘should’ feel. ‘Moon Girl’ is about a friend of mine who is lost and making bad choices about how to cope with her life. All of the songs on the album are real to me and explore things I’ve been going through in the past year.”

With its combination of exhilarating performances, sophisticated arrangements and powerhouse vocals, Can You See Me? is a dynamic and important album from an impressive artist. Listen carefully as Maya Rae sings these twelve songs that beautifully articulate a young woman’s place in an emerging world. It deserves to be heard.

01. Can You See Me?
02. I Get By
03. The Sun Will Come Out Again
04. New For Me
05. Picture Frame
06. Storm Leaf
07. Freedom Fighter
08. Mountain Angel
09. Moon Girl
10. Lonely Ones
11. Goodnight River
12. Here (Digital-only bonus track)

All compositions by Maya Rae and Gabriel Evan All arrangements by Steve Dawson

Website: Maya Rae

photo by: Mark Whitehead