Origin: Vancouver, British Columbia
The uncertainties of first love. Misgivings about a friend’s choices. Thoughts that come and go. The best music has the power to illuminate a moment in time more vividly than anything else. A song, well played and passionately sung, has a life of its own that goes beyond genre and temporary musical fashion. The songs on Maya Rae’s new release, ‘Can You See Me?’ are timeless and universal.
Poised at the crossroads between innocence and experience, Maya’s voice communicates with an immediacy and commitment that most artists never attain. In an age when so much music feels overproduced and lacking in genuine emotion, Maya’s songs come like a breath of fresh air. Vital, committed and uplifting, ‘Can You See Me?’ is the real deal.
Because she’s been singing professionally since the age of twelve, recorded her first album of jazz and classic pop standards at thirteen, and has gone on to sing with some of the biggest names in Canadian jazz, it’s understandable that much of what’s been written about Maya has focused on how much she’s accomplished at such a young age. And, even though she’ll be just shy of 18 when ‘Can You See Me?’ is released, the quality of the music speaks for itself. Confident and vulnerable, soulful and revealing, the songs on her new album are as impressive as you will hear anywhere.
Maya and her brother, Gabriel, started writing songs together in the summer of 2018. Inspired by classic singers like Carol King and Nina Simone, iconic performers such as The Beatles and Joni Mitchell as well as modern-day artists like Ed Sheeran and Adele, Maya felt ready to record an album of original material.
That’s where veteran roots musician and producer, Steve Dawson came in. On the strength of the demo she sent him, Dawson invited Maya to come to Nashville, saying that he had time to record the very next week. She flew down a few days later and almost immediately found herself at Black Hen Studio, surrounded by some of the hottest young musicians in Nashville with whom Steve had gathered to collaborate with Maya on the new material. With a group that included Kai Welch (keyboards/trumpet) Jamie Dick (drums), John Estes (bass) as well as The Birds Of Chicago on supporting vocals and Dawson on guitars, Maya dove right into five days of intense recording and ‘Can You See Me?’ is the result. With only one vocal retake in the whole session, the group recorded live off the floor.
In Maya’s words, ‘Can You See Me?’ became a tribute to human cooperation and the merging of artistic visions with all the contributions from the musicians coming together. But, as good as the music supporting Maya is, her voice and songs are always the central focus. Melodically challenging, lyrically compelling and beautifully phrased, Maya’s songs reflect on experiences with an insight one would usually expect from a much more seasoned performer. “All of the songs are relevant to my own life. The title track, ‘Can You See Me?’ is about choosing to remove the masks we wear to reveal our true selves. Sometimes we feel the need to hide ourselves, so this song is about not being afraid to be who we truly are. ‘New For Me’ is about my first love and trying to figure out my emotions. Having never been in love before, it was hard to know how and what I ‘should’ feel. “Moon Girl” is about a friend of mine who is lost and making bad choices about how to cope with her life. All of the songs on the album are real to me and explore things I’ve been going through in the past year. “
With its combination of exhilarating performances, sophisticated arrangements and powerhouse vocals, ‘Can You See Me?’ is a dynamic and important album from an impressive artist. Listen carefully as Maya Rae sings these twelve songs that beautifully articulate a young woman’s place in an emerging world. It deserves to be heard.