Updated: Feb 18
Welcome all to Connolly’s Corner, a series of weekly reviews by Charles Connolly - an artist in his own right. Here, Charles delves into the greatest brand new singles brought to you by the best unsigned artists on our electrifying and eclectic set of New Artist Spotlight playlists.
𝘽𝙡𝙪𝙚 𝙊𝙫𝙚𝙧 𝙔𝙤𝙪 - 𝙈𝙖𝙖𝙮𝙖 𝙈𝙖𝙩𝙩𝙤𝙤
Back from the Middle-East, Charles descends the narrow staircase, slinks into a bar and slumps in his usual darkened corner. “Let me take you down”…
A small, dim lamp with a red lampshade - tasselled and crooked - just managing to hold together, glued down by years of bar-gunk to my favourite table in the joint. It is bashed and scuffed. It wobbles frequently when I don’t stuff multiple black napkins under the guilty leg. But it is where I like to sit, because it gives me the perfect view of the stage. Here I sit, with my usual glass of red, when a young Indian lady walks on stage.
She looks fresh. She seems cool. She feels comfortable. She is, Maaya Mattoo. On her right, the spotlight allows us only to see the brim of a fedora - a dude plucks out an unusual three-bar phrase on an acoustic, hard but with feeling. From behind, the drummer pops the snare’s rim in just the right spot, flicks the splash cymbals as if to wake them, releases the clutch and brings us into gear.
All eyes on Maaya. Her eyes are closed and she is in the zone. I am hit with a voice so strong and womanly. That is to say, compared to her rather innocent and girlish charm, her voice comes across as bold and brave. This is helped by her choice of singing in a relatively low register, and boy, can she carry it! We are tickled briefly by an electric organ, just enough to introduce the bass, rolling us along the open highway. Maaya and her gang have truly sucked in their audience by this point. To keep the fires burning, the band throws in occasional splinters of harmony, twigs of percussion and branches of unexpected subtle effects to swoop in and out of various sections.
Despite the song as a whole being a soulful blues number, it manages to be very unusual and original in composition. Phrasing is out of the ordinary and crosses bars where one wouldn’t expect. The melody is consistently irregular and unguessable - which is wondrous, as each note is sung with such assurance. Maaya sings with organic yet perfect tuning, as each line drips with experience. There are times when it feels as though she and the band have floated into separate rooms with a great feeling of dissonance. It leaves an awkward tension for a moment, but brings us even more satisfaction as they are all awoken simultaneously with the click of a finger “on the one”. We are back to a dry clarity, which amuses me somewhat as I sip my dry claret.
The bridge turns almost towards reggae on the organ, as rich stabs and swoons are brought in on Maaya’s left from the horn section. The bass gets a rare and brief little space of its own to thin things out and to give the following surrounding vocal harmonies a huger impact. Lush reverb swirls around us from clustered guitar motifs, only to swell further into a fast tremolo euphoria, before Maaya pulls the cord and shows them who’s boss.
With only 12 seconds to go, we hear the snare for the first time. It cracks with a tang! Finally, this stunning drummer’s crash cymbals forcefully and repeatedly choke us to silence with a dead stop.
Encore Maaya, Encore!!! I notice your glass is half full. Mine is half empty. Now where’s that waiter…?
Listen to 𝘽𝙡𝙪𝙚 𝙊𝙫𝙚𝙧 𝙔𝙤𝙪 HERE!
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