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Mae Moore


Country of origin:

Canada

Type of music generally:

Ethereal, folky pop

Status:

Most recent release, Folklore (2011)

See also:

Mae Moore's site (site empty as of 6/16)

CD Baby's Mae Moore page

Wikipedia's entry on Mae Moore

Comparisons:

Suzanne Vega, Joni Mitchell, Jane Siberry, Jann Arden, Wendy Maharry, Jill Sobule.

Covers/own material:

Own

General comments:

Smooth pop, but somehow catchy. Bohemia hooked me and for me has passed the test of time. Her music is softer than most I usually enjoy, but something about her voice, delivery, and her magic way with a chorus makes her interesting and a stand-out in the same way early Suzanne Vega is. (Neile)

At times I get twinges of similarities with quite a few other artists, but can't say "Oh yes, she sounds like so and so." She seems to be a hybrid of many of my favorite artists. I like her a lot. (jsutton@rahul.net)

Mae Moore is a singer/songwriter who lives in B.C. Her voice is the ethereal, kind of wispy type. In my opinion, her songwriting is not as strong or consistent as the "top" ecto-artists but she has some very nice songs and her albums are, overall, pleasant to listen to. Personally, I think Mae would be better in a band with at least one other good song-writer, to provide more variety and balance out some of the weak bits. (tim@falcon.is)

Mae Moore's laidback vocal style is great for background music, but doesn't really command your attention—which is not necessarily a bad thing. (jjhanson@att.net)

I have mixed feelings about Mae Moore. I see a lot of quality, but it's hamstrung by one thing or another.
     The music doesn't rise much above a ever tasteful subdued accompaniment. A few melodies and hooks occasionally rise above the background. Thus center stage goes to Mae Moore's voice, a voice which could hold it, if she wanted. Instead it usually tends to float along with the music. If done right, this can work, and she does pull it off on several excellent songs. However, to my ear, her music too often fades into an undistinguished background.
     Lyrically, her main theme is learning to assert one's own needs and follow one's own desires. She has some interesting things to say about this, especially in the context of recovering from personal crises and problems. While I agree, given that proviso, there is such a slippery slope so close that this message always rankles me. Our society already has far too many people asserting their own needs and rights without the necessary balance of considering others' needs and their own responsibilities. [End of editorial :) ] This cognitive dissonance certainly hindered my enjoyment. (dbx@aa.net)

I saw her open for the Barenaked Ladies a few years ago, and like her music, which is good to listen to after class when you just wanna chill out and decompress. (tugboat@channel1.com)

the title track to bohemia is just plain wonderful. i would compare her more to wendy maharry (especially on her second album) and jill sobule than suzanne vega—nice easy pop songs with a slight folky flair. her voice is very smooth and contemplative; like she is singing her thoughts. (woj@smoe.org)

i think i bought Bohemia and Dragonfly 'cause of an ecto mention. at the time my impression was of "frothy espresso drinks served by a slightly distracted waitress in a black turtleneck in a trendy little non-chain cafe in Vancouver." after running the disks through the workshop, my original impression stands, but hey, it's very well made coffee and attractively served, at that. the experienced staff helps: Bohemia features Steve Kilbey at the helm with various Church associates and Sarah McLachlan's band; Dragonfly promotes Gavin MacKillop to producer and adds more Nettwerk types such as Greg Reely and Vincent Jones. the tight, professional, but breezy playing helps lift the simple songs and Ms. Moore's half-spoken, waitressing-is-just-my-day-job vocals out of the ho-hum. hardly life-changing albums, but they're no longer relegated to the dust-covered stacks in my collection. (bossert@suddensound.com)

I'm a big Mae Moore fan. The description, "frothy espresso drinks served by a slightly distracted waitress in a black turtleneck in a trendy little non-chain cafe in Vancouver," is pretty funny and actually when I read it, pretty accurate. Mae's voice and music always reminded me of drifting in a pleasantly warm, sun-dappled sky. Her voice just soars, and the music is so gentle and soothing it just relaxes me. And while I agree her albums are hardly life-changing... a few of her songs move me incredibly. Off the top of my head, I would include "Because of Love" and "Fine" in that category. (colford@noble.net)

Comments about live performance:

Go see Mae if you get the chance. I saw her last summer in a small coffee house w/Steven and Rick May (who is an excellent bass player) and drum machine. She was a delight live and we are hoping she comes back this way soon.
     Great stage presence and is very personable. (1995, GIBSOND@AA.WL.COM)

I saw her show last night here in Vancouver. The only disappointment for me was that guitarist Steve Nikleva is not touring with her. From where I was sitting, I couldn't hear her song introductions and introductions of the band members very clearly. (She sort of quickly mumbled through them.) However, I think that they were Neil Clarke, Vincent Jones, Rick May, Paul Brennan and Daniel Lapp on guitar, keys, bass, drums and brass, respectively. The keyboard player played e-bowed guitar on "Fine". Mae played guitar and sang, as you might expect. It wasn't clear whether Daniel Lapp was on the tour or just sitting in for the Vancouver (and Victoria?) shows. I suspect it would be an expensive luxury to take him along for two tunes.
     Mae seemed very happy to be playing to a large and pretty enthusiastic home town crowd—yeah, she lives on Vancouver Island now, but still... (6/2/95, art@cs.sfu.ca)

Mae Moore was a lot better than I thought she'd be—her voice was a lot more powerful than on her albums. (7/5/95, meth@smoe.org)

i didn't even realize it was her (guess i was asleep during the introduction) until she played "bohemia" and underwent a vocal chord transformation from the fairly brazen belting of the new songs to the coyish whispers of the second album's steve kilbeyism. anyways, she was alright, though didn't hold my attention very long. (woj@smoe.org, 7/5/1995)

Recommended first album:

Bohemia or the Collected Works compilation.

Recordings:


Oceanview Motel

Release info:

1990—Epic/Sony—BEK 80155

Availability:

See Mae Moore's site

Ecto priority:

Recommended for those who like soft folk/rock or who like Bohemia so much they want more

Comments:

country/folk, acoustic guitars and relatively clean instrumentation. (tim@falcon.is)

This is a pleasant, gentle collection of songs for when you're in the mood for soft pop. (Neile

my favourite [of her albums] is oceanview motel. (damon)

More folky than bohemia. (woj@smoe.org)

Oceanview Motel is much less latte and more a cup o'joe, some of which had been percolating since the mid-eighties. Mae's singing is throatier, with less cafe and more country in it. the first track, "Red Clay Hills," works pretty well, but the heavy-handed production bogs the album down. (bossert@suddensound.com)


Bohemia

Release info:

1992—Epic/Sony—EK 80174

Availability:

See Mae Moore's site

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Mae Moore—vocals, acoustic 6- and 12-string guitars, electric guitar, bass

Guest artists:

Steve Kilbey (The Church)—6- and 12-string guitars, electric guitar, fretless, 4- and 6-string basses, keyboards, vocals
Ash Sood—drums, percussion, vocals
David Kershaw—piano, Hammond organ, vocals
G. W. MacLennan—acoustic and electric guitars, vocals
Boris Gordonof—trumpets, Fender Rhodes, piano
Stephan Nikleva—electric guitar (8)
Brian Minato—fretless bass (8)
Peter Koppes—electric guitar (11)
Gord Downie (The Tragically Hip)—vocals (9)

Produced by:

Steve Kilbey (The Church)

Comments:

This sounds kind of like The Church, mostly because it was produced by Steve Kilby in Australia. (tim@falcon.is)

While this is softer pop than I usually like, I find it really catchy, even nearly 20 years later. Great for when you want music that seeps into your consciousness rather than grabbing it. As Anthony comments below, it's gently addictive. (Neile)

One of my favourites of the year. I'm surprised at myself that I've ranked it so highly, but the more I think about it, and the more I listen to the album, the more sense it makes. It's a gently addictive record if ever there was one! (ahoran@ozemail.com.au)

This album has a subtle way of creeping into your head a resonating there for a while. You know how, when you buy an album, sometimes it takes months for a certain song to lunge out at you? Well, all of sudden, I can't get enough of "Because of love" from Bohemia. Hmmm.(colford@noble.net)

An album that I've played over and over again. The atmosphere is established from the opening bars of the title track and maintained throughout. Many of the songs are very catchy and stick in the mind long after being heard, this woman deserves to be a big star. I think it was to quite a large extent Steve Kilbey's influence on Bohemia that made that album so extremely enjoyable.(nightwol@dircon.co.uk)

A good listen, one to help mellow the mood. Very "pretty", meaning that it's airy, full of life, and a great, calming piece of art. I really enjoy it. Recommended. (Matt.Bittner)

I found this in a bargin bin, and it was easily worth twice the price. With most of Sarah M's band playing on it, it would be impossible to be a dud. (jeffw@smoe.org)

This second album for Canada's Mae Moore has taken its time escaping from its home country; released last year there, Bohemia has finally appeared almost simultaneously here and in the U.S. Produced by the increasingly prolific Steve Kilbey and recorded in Sydney, it's an album that falls into the rapidly growing category of music that refuses to tie itself to a particular genre, time or place and instead plays out like a carefully crafted film, oblivious to transient commercial considerations.
     The title track opens proceedings somewhat deceptively; a lush keyboard and guitar backing provides the soundtrack for a Luka Bloom-style rap on the song's verses. It all gels, however, once the gentle dreamscape of the chorus appears. "Shape Of Love" is as close as this album gets to radio-friendly with a little more quiet rap preceding a song which quite possibly could have turned into a dreadful MOR ballad in the hands of many a producer; Kilbey's extensive contribution in the playing department puts paid to that, thankfully. He also has co-written three of the songs here with Mae; "Fall With You" is the first of them, and it's sublime. Crystalline guitars, phased backing vocals, and Mae's nostalgic lyrics wash in and out of the song like poetry.
     "Because Of Love" is easily the album's standout track, luring the listener in with a delicate vocal and staccato guitar before launching into the chorus, simultaneously a pop masterpiece and one of the most simple yet seductive things imaginable. And just when you least expect it, a small keyboard-sourced string section appears to firmly stamp the label "perfection" on the song. Things quieten down a notch after this for "Arrow", a mood piece whose quiet nature belies the reflectively bitter lyrics. "Pieces Of Clay" adds Boris Goudenof's trumpet to the mix but the song never quite seems to get to where it's going; "Coat Of Shame" experiments with a gospel-tinged groove with mixed success; Mae's knack for creating killer chorus hooks saves this one. "Western Front" veers dangerously close to country music territory and contains one of the most inappropriate horn sections you'll ever hear, but remains hard to dislike completely.
     From here things improve again drastically, firstly with the "The Wish", a slice of string-assisted epic scope that contains a far more appropriate horn section and paints a sweeping picture far beyond the confines of a mere song; "Ophelia" is an exercise in ambient restraint that is simply beautiful, and over all too soon despite being the longest track on the album. The appropriately named "Full Circle" brings things to a logical conclusion with a positive outlook, Killjoys-calibre instrumentation and more of those killer hooks.
     This album is probably going to get lost in the pre-Christmas frenzy and its so-quiet-you-d-never-know-it-was-out release here. But in what has proven to be quite a year for new music, this is another piece of silvered plastic that your life will be a better place to live in for owning. (8.5/10) (As printed in Beat Magazine, Melbourne, Issue 375, November 24th 1993, used by author's permission, ahoran@ozemail.com.au.)


Dragonfly

Release info:

1995—Epic/Sony—EK 80222

Availability:

Wide on release

Ecto priority:

Recommended for those who like soft folk/rock or who like Bohemia so much they want more

Group members:

Mae Moore—acoustic guitar, electric guitar, vocals

Guest artists:

Stephen Nikleva—electric guitar, mandolin, nylon-string electric guitar, ambient electric guitar, E-bow
Neil Clarke—electric guitar
Vincent Jones—Hammond organ, Wurlitzer piano, acoustic piano, harmonium
Rick May—bass, upright bass loop
Greg Reely—drum program, percussion
Paul Brennan—additional drums, hats, cymbals, drums, percussion
Daniel Lapp—trumpet, flugelhorn
John Warn—backing vocals
Scott Harding—drum beats, percussion
gavin MacKillop—backing vocal

Produced by:

Gavin MacKillop

Comments:

She really caught my attention from the 1st song forward. I loved the line 'All the things I don't have make me free' from cut 1, "Genuine". I thought everything else would be a let down, but no, it only gets better. This is really an exciting album, and it will take me many listens just to get somewhat familiar with the many faceted talents of this artist from songwriting, arranging, and that wonderful voice. (jsutton@rahul.net)

Nothing ground-breaking, but a very pretty record nonetheless. (cmont@rci.rutgers.edu)

every bit as good as bohemia. (mjmjminla@yahoo.com)

it took me a long time to fully appreciate this album. even so, i'm a bit iffy about putting it on my list of favourites of the year; the music is not the most inspiring and the lyrics don't stand out except for a few moments (and all of the song "all i can't explain"); the overall effect is a bit background-ey, but even so it's one of the albums i've enjoyed most this year. very smooth and soft, and easy to immerse oneself in. (damon)

it hasn't sunk any tendrils into my cortex yet even after repeated listens. (woj@smoe.org)

the Mae Moore one really hasnt grabbed me yet. I liked Bohemia, just something isn't there in this one. (anthony.baxter@aaii.oz.au)

I think she sounds much stronger on this one than anything previous I've heard from her. (carnivore@bigfoot.com)

very pretty and sad. (dmw@mwmw.com)

Very similar to Bohemia—good songs. More noticeable piano playing though. (jjhanson@att.net)

Dragonfly is pretty ethereal folk/pop music. But Moore's lyrics and arrangements lift her above the standard fare. (colford@noble.net)

It's similar in feeling to Bohemia, but with more strong songs and a somewhat less floaty and ethereal vibe, I'd say. Though not as hard-edged (if you could call it that) as Oceanview Motel. I'd say the first track on Dragonfly with its spoken word sounds more like Bohemia than the rest of it. (nkg@vcn.bc.ca)

It certainly doesn't do for me what bohemia did, but it's growing on me. While most of Sarah M's band played on Bohemia, none appear on Dragonfly. despite this, it comes off sounding similar. If you liked bohemia, I'd pick it up. (jeffw@smoe.org)

I feel Dragonfly is a wonderful album with a similar feel to Bohemia and it did take a few listens till I started hearing the songs in my head and trying to figure out what is that song? Mae has a talent for hooks! Of course this album doesn't compare to Bohemia in the sense that those songs were written with Steve Kilbey from The Church. (GIBSOND@AA.WL.COM)

I quite like the new album. As others have said, it is quite similar to Bohemia. (art@cs.sfu.ca)


Mae Moore

Release info:

1999—Big Hip

Availability:

See Mae Moore's site

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Comments:

I like what I've heard. Mae's ultra-cool laid back style is still in evidence. I think it's pretty good (although I prefer her two previous). I can see why some might compare it to Jann Arden's stuff (which I also enjoy, it's great pop, intelligently written.) It's a little less dreamy than Bohemia and Dragonfly, more down-to-earth. I'd even say there's a tinge of the blues hidden in there somewhere. Still, Mae's voice is soothing, and drifts about in the clouds, but she does get down a bit more, in songs like "Serial Girlfriend," and "What Jimmy Said to Me." (colford@noble.net)

Collected Works 1989–1999

Release info:

1999

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Comments:

I've also got the Mae Moore Collected Works, 1989–1999 collection. Not sure why, I pretty much knew all the songs, but it's a nice collection with great liner notes and a couple remixes and single versions. Plus, I'd never picked up Oceanview Motel for some reason so it was nice to hear some of those songs. It wasn't until I read the liner notes for this that I realized all the great guests she's had helping her out. Sure, I knew about Steve Kilbey, but other 'names' include Gordon Downie of The Tragically Hip, Phil Comparelli from 54-40, Peter Koppes and Ash Sood. This collection is a good place to start if you're interested in hearing a nice sampling of Mae's stuff. (colford@noble.net)


Thanks to JoAnn Whetsell for work on this entry.

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