Mary Bue – Holy Bones
Remember Lilith Fair? It put together the best in female talent from every and any genre imaginable; from Lisa Loeb to The Cardigans, there were simply no limits in terms of what acts Sarah McLachlan and crew would put on. As long as it was good music and had substance, there were no rules. I bring this up because Mary Bue could fit in with that crowd of artists. She’s a bit more electric guitar oriented, soulful and sassy than a lot of the legends that graced those stages, but it gives her an edge that many couldn’t dream of possessing.
On her sixth album Holy Bones, she brings an eclectic mix of bratty alternative songs, authentic blues/country, rock, grunge, and pop to the table. She leaves no stone unturned in making exactly the music that she wants to make. Not only can she sing, but she can play and write too which authenticates the experience even more. There’s always some kind of swing, swagger or rocking evident in her songs from the first track, “Candy.” This song is loaded with soaring pop bravado, but Bue modulates her timber and phrasing considerably. “Cheribum” has a surplus of pop qualities on hand. but toys with plugged in riffs, 90s rock and other Seattle based influences. Punk is also part of the equation. The playing of both Mary and her collaborators is as tight as it gets and the volume swells have attitude, as do Bue’s melodic, agitated vocals.
The title track also has some snarly, distorted bends. We hear the guitars deconstructed into acoustic melodies brimming with folk and country shades. Things start perking up into rock mode for the chorus, but this is mostly a tune with a gristly, defined feel that Mary’s rough-edged guitar work and tough backing band transform into soaring positivity. “Heart’s Desire” is a drearier, blacked out blues that sounds like it could have come out of Nashville in the 70s. Ambient guitar washes and cement block beats lead into brilliant twang and vocals full of character and emotion. She explores these paths further on the rock/country switch-hit of “Archaeology”, even managing to mix in just the slightest hint of gospel. “Veal” trades country for folksy, roost-y sentiment. Thanks to the sheer might of Mary’s voice, guitar playing and her musical partners, nothing ever gets overly sentimental even when keys, organ and other synth instruments rise in the mix. Rounding out this glorious disc, “Put Up” has a certain surf rock meets pop punk vibe that stands out akin to Man or Astroman swapping spacesuits with Avril Lavinge. The ending track “A Million Moths” is pretty much a straight ode to Seattle’s very heavy guitars, especially in the chorus.
There is literally something for everybody on Holy Bones. Bue tosses a middle-finger to style, category and genre and, in turn, comes up with music completely her own and doesn’t really sound like anybody else. She’s as tender as she is ready to snarl at you from the speakers. Mary Bue has certainly cemented herself as an artist to watch 2015 with this EP.
8 out of 10 stars.