MayMay: MayMay

Though short at sixteen minutes, MayMay's enchanting self-titled EP nevertheless makes a strong impression. Laurel Simmons is the figure behind the MayMay curtain, and for the recording, the Portland-based songwriter enlisted Heather Woods Broderick, Raúl Pastor Medall (aka Rauelsson), and Nicholas Archibald Marshall as help-mates for the five songs.

MayMay's music bespeaks a well-tuned instrumental ear, given the subtle touches that add such vibrant colour to the finger-picked guitar-and-vocal core of the songs. In “Born A Fable,” for example, subtle accents of shaker percussion, glockenspiel, and melodica add to the song's acoustic guitars and haunting vocals, while the folk splendour of “All Is Still” is elevated by the addition of strings and glockenspiel to its acoustic guitar and soothingly soft vocal. “If It Remains Light” sounds especially home-recorded in being the most stripped-down of the five songs and in allowing the faint chatter of birds to inhabit part of the song's background.

With the songs' arrangements so elemental, any flaws in her vocals would be glaringly exposed, but there's no cause for concern on that count, as Simmons' singing is a thing of beauty throughout this blink-and-you'll-miss-it release. Fragile in tone and emotionally affecting, Simmons' pastoral folk songs breathe with a quiet and natural warmth that makes them feel as if they were recorded on a late summer afternoon in her backyard.

April 2012