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Maria McKee - Late December

Maria McKee, Late December

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

MARIA McKee’s sixth studio album Late December is a deceptive offering and not a very satisfactory one at that.

It begins in pleasant pop fashion with the title track, which also drops in an element of gospel during the chorus, before coming over all Motown for the similarly enjoyable No Other Way To Love You. But then things start to go wrong.

A cover version of ’80s Feargal Sharkey hit A Good Heart, which she penned for him, is the type of song that really didn’t need revisiting. While the middle section of the album veers hopelessly (and annoyingly) off course into the same sort of operatic “collage-work” that was a feature of previous LPs, Life Is Sweet and High Dive.

It’s when the album assumes a rock opera quality that sounds like it wants to emulate the achievements of bands like Queen or artists like Meatloaf without the same kind of success. It becomes a mini-rock opera in search of an unwritten show.

McKee is fiercely proud of the work but it will come as quite a surprise to anyone drawn to the album by the undoubted commercial appeal of tracks like Late December.

“I suppose some people may be thrown aback by the new album, especially in light of the fact that maybe longtime fans felt they could breathe easier again after the last one,” acknowledges McKee in reference to 2005’s Peddlin’ Dreams, a gentler, more rootsy album.

“I like Peddlin’ Dreams. I’m proud of it and it’s a solid work. But Late December is current for me. It’s an album I love to listen to. It’s music I like.”

Just how much other people will, however, is a moot point. The album certainly doesn’t lack ambition. But there’s a gulf in enjoyment terms between the best it has to offer (Late December and the Dolly Parton-esque My First Night Without You) and the worst (the punk rock opera pomp of Destine or the the excess of Starving Pretty).

The result, I’m afraid, isn’t really worthy of a recommendation.

Download picks: Late December, No Other Way To Love You, My First Night Without You

Track listing:

  1. Late December
  2. No Other Way To Love You
  3. Good Heart
  4. Power On Little Star
  5. Too Many Heroes
  6. Destine
  7. My First Night Without You
  8. Scene Of The Affair
  9. Cat In The Wall
  10. One Eye On The Sky
  11. Bannow
  12. Starving Pretty