Time is an album that hops between many sonic stepping stones, dancing between eras and genres and sounds and styles to build a sound that is unique, fresh and forward thinking and also somehow familiar and easily slipped into existing comfort zones.
Take Sharpen Your Knives, the gritty and groovesome opener. There is a cool bluesy riff running down the spine of the song, and onto this is hung no small amount of punchy rock ‘n’ roll energy and swagger but also a distant echo of raucous, 80’s party anthems of the sort that would slip easily from artists such as Cyndi Lauper—the perfect blend of the bold and the buoyant, the pop and the hard place.
There is an immediate change of pace next as Maryann takes on the classic House of the Rising Sun, a song nearly one hundred years old and performed by many. But the sonic benchmark for most people will be The Animals’ 1964 hit and Eric Burdon’s haunting and cavernous vocals. Few have matched his delivery until now.
Every Time I Think of You is a great mix of folk and rock, of balladry and drive, of bluesy bravado and sensuous soulfulness, a song built on pace and purpose and poise but also upon depth and emotion, whilst The Outsider is dark, almost psychedelic rock and roll.
And it is here that something that has been bothering me about her voice finally resolves itself. There is something in her voice, that unexpected range, one that goes from gravelly tones usually outside the female vocal spectrum to clear and controlled crescendoes, that had me seeking a half-forgotten point of reference. That reference is Nico, the German chantress who briefly sang with The Velvet Underground (and this song wouldn’t feel out of place in their repertoire) and who went on to have a fascinating solo career. Not many can hold a candle to her vocal prowess, but Maryann is one of the few.
A live version of Picture Perfect rounds things off with just a voice and a guitar, a surprisingly minimalist song, the spaciousness of which frames her vocals perfectly, allowing her exquisite tones and textures to ebb and flow and drift and float around the room unhindered by any excessive or extraneous instrumentation. A powerful yet perfectly poised delivery indeed.
The advantage of releasing an EP is that you can load it with surefire hits, none of the filler that albums often have, and no songs included, just to make up the numbers. And that is what Maryann Stefanik has produced here—a short, sharp and shockingly brilliant release.
Artist’s website https://maryannsmusic.com