In an age of mass produced megastars, every once in a while, true talent seems to slip through the cracks. UK house producer and vocalist, Maya Jane Coles, made a career by touring off of her unique, understated sound, slowly building her fanbase, devoid of ghost writers or producers. One of the lone females in the electronic music scene to her credit, she delivers her first official album with Comfort.
Acting as almost the antithesis of her Scottish neighbor Calvin Harris’ 18 Months, Coles goes for a series of collaborations with vocalists, yet stays away from the go-to hit-making formulas. Instead, her sound is rooted in UK garage and at times, dabbles in trip-hop. Songs like the opening pair, “Comfort” and “Easier To Hide” are opposite sides of the same coin, setting up the tone of the album perfectly. While “Comfort” defines the album’s more hypnotic, subdued side, it’s dancier b-side, “Easier To Hide”, might fit well in one of Disclosure’s live sets.
The inclusion of Trip-Jop godfather Tricky on “Wait For You”, is no coincidence, as the album, in some ways, is the offspring of that era, and today’s modern dance music. Songs like “Stranger” and “Burning Bright” (feat. Kim Ann Foxman) could be potential hits on her side of the pond, while songs like “Blame” (feat. Nadine Shah) and the soulful “Fall From Grace” (feat. Catherine Pockson) are integral, atmospheric album filler. In both cases, her suppressed sound never goes for the jugular like much of today’s house music, and instead goes for the slow burn, taking the road less traveled.
Maya Jane Coles’ sound is all her own, and it’s clear that she has produced and performed this album without the unseen hand of industry evil attempting to tamper with her sound. Driven by her own vocals, and those of many female collaborators, this album will find it’s audience, yet may not be suited for mass appeal. That being said, her lack of conformity could work equally for or against her.
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