Once in a while a tomato is best tasted fresh, cut up, all by itself; sometimes tea soothes best without milk or sugar. Kate Maki is this relief. The Sudbury, Ontario native has a pure, uncluttered voice and style best complemented with a dash of piano, a strum of acoustic guitar, and a little wurlitzer.
Clean-cut, summertime-simple lyrics (“White lines, black signs, jump the track, jump the tree”) shower the album with a quaint, sing-song vibe, and strike a resemblance to Kimya Dawson’s addictive indie folk tracks off the Juno soundtrack (just listen closely to Maki’s duet, “Badminton Racquet”). Rest assured, this simplicity doesn’t mean Maki lacks a sense of fun—the album is far from boring. On the upbeat “To Please,” she enlists the help of an optigan, bottles and train whistles to jitterbug in the background. Opening track “Highway” (one of the strongest) is catchy from first listen, and “Beyond The Sun” whines beautifully while teases her lover bitterly, “Are we happy now?” With help from her producer, talented Arizona singer, songwriter and pianist Howe Gelb, Maki’s latest album shines with professional execution and playful charisma—like a perfectly unsweetened iced tea on a hot Ontario day.