The languorous coo’s and indolent sun-dappled tones of MayMay cozily occupy the listener’s ears and snuggly melt into the subconscious. Filled with a diaphanous radiance and the drifting summer’s twilight-hour ambience, the singer/songwriter Laurel Simmons’ placable hymns and hazy eulogies gently reveal themselves over time: Imagine a pastoral Beach House and you’re a third of the way there.
Simmons’ debut album, as you may have picked-up from my leading passage, is indeed a work of iridescent beauty. No stranger to chamber-folk and poetic causes, the Portland, Oregon, swooner was once a member of the much admired Loch Lomond, before venturing solo. Homesick and pining for the deserts of her native Arizona and missing the comfort of a close-knit family, she chose the MayMay guise in tribute to her grandmother, Barbara MaeMay. And in a way this nine-track record is a paean to those fond memories, set against the first bleak winter Simmons’ spent in the harsh NorthWest.
A seasonal landscape track list begins with the Setting Sun and ends with the more ominous shadowy, Winter Air; loosely following a harmonious halcyon narrative. Simmons and her band (Raul Rastor Medall and Nicolas Marshall) do all they can to attenuate and downplay the amorphous backing; lilting between the light and shade dynamics rather than vociferating these changes. And So I Place You In The Setting Sun has two distinct gears. The first is encapsulated on the delicate acoustic-brushed and hushed number, The Fall, and on the quivering piano, Bringing Home; whilst Simmons’ sails close to the Besnard Lakes on the stirring, Stories We Lived By, and the ethereal Blonde Redhead on the prairie-beat, If It Remains Light. There’s also plenty of palatial space for country-twanged guitars, dreamy-gazing melodies, venerated organ and lulling, succinct vocals to work their magic.
Overtly subtle, MayMay’s burgeoning suite is best described as a barefoot walk through the evocative reflections of Simmons accentuated world. A perfect plaintive and musing soundtrack to the seasons.