Another installment of a disk I have enjoyed over the years. I'm trying to keep the Record of the Month posts to be fairly new releases. Classics are going to be ones that are at least 5 years old.
I was all set to go with another selection and then a song rotated through my iPod play list and I completely changed direction.
Maria McKee's third release, Life is Sweet is one great disk. Granted it is not for everyone, but what music is? And it is an album - one meant to be played front to back. It's not just a collection of songs thrown together and set out for sale.
Unlike her work with the short-lived band Lone Justice (a totally other RotM-C) or her first solo disk it is not country-rock. And unlike her second solo disk, it's not blues-tinged.
Life is Sweet is electric guitars, distortion and strong vocals. It is everything I want out of Maria McKee.
Opening with what is arguably the best track on the disk, "Scarlover" is as rough and painful as the title suggests. Oddly enough it's off-set the background vocals which tend to draw you in lessening the edge if only for a few seconds. Then you're drawn back in. Or I am.
Even with the guitar work, sometimes her lead and backing/harmony vocals really set the tone for the disk. Hard and soft. Mean and nice. ("This Perfect Dress", "Everybody")
The theme of the disk is clearly being an outcast ("I'm Not Listening", "Smarter" "What Else You Wanna Know?"). But there are underlying hints of duplicity and/or schizophrenia ("Absolutely Barking Stars", "Carried").
As much as I love "Scarlover" it is really the title track that makes the disk. Maria must like it too - as she has recorded and released it thrice - once here, once on a live album and then on her High Dive disk.
In my opinion it works best on this disk and it really encapsulates the entire album into one four minute song (though technically you need to play the following and accompanying "Afterlife").
Depending on when you go to amazon, Life is Sweet may or may not be available for purchase. Oddly enough, it is the only McKee disk not available on iTunes.
But I'd recommend finding it.