Marla Mase: Half Life
Great affected guitar and a forceful straight-ahead beat smack us into the reality that singer/songwriter/performer Marla Mase is on-the-move in the opening track here, “Drown In Blue.” Though I appreciate the Patti Smith homage, I dig the slinky tom beat and Mase’s talking vocal on the second tune and title track much better. Mike Faulkner’s drums and Mark Henry’s sax are also front and center and make the tune.
The band is in true funk mode on “Things That Scare Me” seeing Marla in a good Blondie-like groove with the backing vocals of Heather Powell and Natalie Smith helping her along. “The Heart Beat” again sees us slowing down with Faulkner’s toms, some great Western movie-feeling guitar noodling and Mase doing her talking thang, but things come alive for me truly when the lady channels The Stones on the truly wonderful shunky country rock “Gaping Hole” – what a great song!
We get that funked-up wah-wah guitar again, and David Barnes’ wailing harmonica on “Bitch in Heat,” a song stronger in its music then lyric. (Charlie Funk’s “hey hey come on girl” are a hoot though!) “Hold Fast Your Dreams,” a soft MOR read, ends the eight songs with Marla at her whispery best, fronting a soft, plinking piano and brush snare drum.
Tomás Doncker and James Dellatacoma really kick the production here into high gear, slightly above Mase’s competency. Still, Half Life is a subtle solid listen.