In a sharp left turn from her usual punky fare, Life As Mary present the world with Sixth Street.
Because of what’s come before, the song is surprisingly mellow and sensitive, led from the front by a laid-back kit that showcases a huge dynamic range. There’s sensitive and tasteful support from acoustic and electric guitars, which helps the dynamics and rhythms ebb and flow with warmth, and also from some extraordinarily beautiful spectral textures that put me in mind of Nigel Godrich’s work on Beck’s Sea Change album. Tremolo work and simple, haunting piano add further to the mix.
Life As Mary’s fractured and quite delicate vocal allows itself to feel every syllable of the lyric delivery. The melodic phrases often end with the vocal falling away with breathy abandon on the lower notes, in an earthy appreciation for what’s being sung. This speaks of a deep connection with the material.
The composition and the feel of the vocal leads me to think of Chrissie Hynde’s work – though without her huge vibrato. And Life As Mary is definitely letting us in on her delicate side for Sixth Street.
‘Words can’t solve / The math that you write on the board’ she sings in her cracked, emotional tones, taking us through to a resolution where ‘The bruises you left aren’t enough’. I think Sixth Street leads us down an unexpected pathway, where a relationship is being assessed from both sides of the mirror – but that, of course, is just what I get from it.
An accomplished and beautiful song with an authentic, very feminine vocal performance that belies its actual message. Haunting.