This one caught me a little off guard. Had I not previously caught the Shea Seger buzz via a respectable new music publication, I might have erroneous filed The May Street Project under "major label twaddle" and been done with it. Ah, but that was not to be. This record is worthy of attention. And it's gonna get it.
London-based, West Texas born and bred singer/songwriter Seger has debuted with a stirring and radiant collection that meshes old school blues, country and pop influences with hip hop beats, samples and disarmingly direct and soulful vocals (self-described by Seger as "mutt dog blues with pop beats"). Her lyrics are honest and straightforward and deal with love (both fleeting and enduring), abandonment and childhood memories that recall her tumultuous upbringing.
The May Street Project is a sophisticated, sensual and honest song cycle the likes of which is all too uncommon in pop music these days. Cool, programmed beats are juxtaposed by Seger's warm, immediate voice, which alternates between a slow, soft drawl and a convincing bluesey growl. Against the clean, modern-sounding production values, Seger weaves unflinching confessionals that read like journal entries: "It's full of words, it's full of love, it's full of me/ It's full of choices, now can you stand it." (from "I Love You Too Much"). The opening cut "Last Time" addresses an impossible yet irresistible attraction. The beautiful "Shatterwall" is a plea for community and stability in a world lacking any semblance of permanence. The free form, one take "May Street" revisits (and paints a bleak yet strangely captivating picture of) the tiny Texas town where she was raised. Even in the breezy "Clutch" there is something beguiling and dark slithering underfoot.
All told, a damn nice surprise find for this jaded indie-phile.