Although many of our readers will outright refuse to believe human beings born in 1997 actually exist, they do. And luckily some of them have the talent of Lily Mae, a precocious folk singer songwriter from the US of A.
Joanne Rowe: Lily Mae, who hails from the state of Pennsylvania, sounds like some kind of magical woodland nymph sent to sooth our ears. There is something so pure and naked about her vocals, encouraging images of innocence and sounding like a younger Laura Marling before she was scorned by life.
A performer since the age of four, Mae has also been a player in the music theatre scene throughout her childhood. And for a 16 year old, her voice, already endorsed by well-known indie artists such as Jenny Owen Youngs and Bess Rodgers, is extremely polished and flawless, reminiscent of a young Joan Baez or Joni Mitchell.
Her debut EP Early Days is available for purchase right now and is well worth a listen. It has a calming vintage quality about it, which makes it seem so rare and special. The tracks flow seamlessly into each other as is they are all pages in the same chapter of a book.
Kathy Saunders: Lily Mae might be young but she’s certainly got a knack for writing very honest, insightful lyrics that people more than twice her age have often been known to struggle with. Her debut EP Early Days is full of bright but slow-burning emotion and some lovely guitar arrangements.
Opening track ‘Montauk’ could almost pass for an ode to the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The undulating vocals tell a tale of love, loss and the possibility of learning something in the aftermath of it all. As well as standing somewhat in Joni Mitchell’s shadow, it is, above all, warm and heartfelt.
Laura Marling’s influence quickly becomes clear on ‘Lost at Sea,’ which resonates with overwhelming feelings of hopelessness and emotion, without ever letting despair become a factor. ‘Søren’ snowballs into a finale of bright harmonies while ‘The Table Song’ ends things on a cheerful note, reminiscing over happy memories, as decent folk music is often wont to do.
It all fits very well into the folk category; it’s obvious she loves playing and listening to folk music, and her listed influences, which include Neil Young and Joni Mitchell, make absolute sense. A strong beginning, this EP release could well be a first step towards winning recognition among the folk scene.
The middle three songs were the standouts for me; second track ‘Early Days’ demonstrates good lyric writing that marries a pleasant tune. ‘Lost at Sea’ and ‘Søren’ particularly showcase her talent for a narrative song that echoes traditional folk arrangements; the keys are haunting, lyrics are emphasised with harmonies, and the pace is gently lead along by her guitar playing.
The whole EP looks lovingly to the past; the songs echo the old-folk inflected creations of a certain other precocious female singer songwriter who is very much in demand these days… especially in the UK festival season. Perhaps Lily Mae ought to be getting her wellies ready? Oh, and (did we mention this already? – Ed) she’s sixteen years old.
If you’re one of our North American readers conveniently located in the north east of the US, why not head over to Pennsylvania and catch Lily on February 23rd at the New Hope Winery or on February 26th at the Sellersville Theatre 1894.