Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Album Review: Mother by Natalie Maines

I haven't watched American Idol in years, but when I did there was always one rocker contestant. She was a bit punkish, would have a nose ring, and would always do these rocked up arrangements. It was always a girl and she never had the best voice but a lot of spunk. Eventually she would get dropped and would be forgotten. This first solo effort from Natalie Maines feels like the album that would be made my one of those contestants.

Problem is Natalie Maines is one of the most important voices in modern country and on this album she is being brought down to a very low level. If you are a big Maines fan then maybe you can enjoy it, as I enjoyed Everything But the Girl doing covers on their Acoustic album, but if your turning to this just out of curiosity to see what Maines can do on her own you will be terribly disappointed.

There are two basic problems with this album. The first is the arrangements are just not very interesting. They really do feel like the arrangements that would be done for an American Idol contestant. Secondly are the songs themselves. As a singer you have to be really smart about what songs will and won't work for you. You also have to understand what you're pitting yourself up against when you pick certain songs. If you pick the Jeff Buckley song "Lover, You Should've Come Over," you are essentially matching your singing ability up against someone who many consider to have had the best voice of his generation. So if you are going to cover it you may want to make an arrangement that feels unique to you and allows you to make it your song. Instead her arrangement pretty much pits her against Buckley head to head. It was his song. He wrote it. He sang it. He arranged it for himself. I'm not saying you can't cover songs like this, but you have to do them in a way that makes them uniquely yours, otherwise where is the artistry?

Also as a note I would say you should never cover Pink Floyd, and especially anything from The Wall. Just forget it. But to make it your title track to your first solo album, I don't get it.

The best song on the album is the one original on the album "Vein in Vain." Give me an album of that and you've got a solid solo album. As it is following the Rhapsody rating method I give it 1 out of 5 stars for Just OK.


  1. This is too bad. She's a great singer, and it's a shame she couldn't have found a better format.

  2. When the first American Idol season was winding down, I had a notion of trying to sell bumper stickers that read, "DON'T BLAME ME--I VOTED FOR JUSTIN," and, "DON'T BLAME ME--I VOTED FOR KELLY." It could've been a whole different life if I'd followed this path.

  3. I just got done happening upon a great song on the car radio, and I was totally ready to go to bat on behalf of Natalie Maines against the bludgeoning she absorbed in this review.

    But, alas, "From a Table Away" is by Sunny Sweeney, not Natalie Maines.