Maddy Hay : Tell Me A Story
Maddy Hay is a prodigious jazz artist, and Tell Me A Story is her second record of jazz/pop. Jazz singers have a hard time of it when it comes to making a living. As a genre, it's hard to market, there's not that much of a place for it in popular culture. Backstage at most music festivals, you'll normally find a young jazz prodigy who shouldn't be around that many drugs/Tim Rogers, but that's about it. Once you've reached the heights of where jazz can take you in Australia the only real option is to take your considerable talent into pop, and spend the rest of your career slowly flinching away from the jazz stigma.
Hay does this well; the lady can sing. She's had a lot of press from overseas expressing disbelief that someone so young - Hay is 23 this year - can sing with this kind of maturity, and people are right to be impressed. Hay does her thing like the ablest of chanteuses, vamping slow and smokey on soulful joints like Where is The Night and wistfully playful on more upbeat guitar pop numbers. Every so often she's show off her jazz chops with little scat breakdown, which shows off her skills without being obnoxious.
The big problem with treading the jazz/pop road is that it's been done before. Hay, in the hands of producer Jonathan Zion, doesn't really break any new ground, and takes her cues from the dozens of local singers who have been down this road. While I was listening to Tell Me A Story, both of my housemates came in independently to ask me if this was Sarah Blasko's new album and could they borrow it. That's not necessary a bad thing. Hay's got big shoes to fill, and she does it with aplomb. There's a lot to love about this record.
Best Track: I'm On A Plane
If You Like These, You'll Like This: RESCUE SHIPS, ALANA STONE, SARAH BLASKO, HOLLY THROSBY
In A Word: Jazzhands