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On High

Kate Maki

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Album Review

After two albums of fairly standard issue singer/songwriter pop little noticed outside of her native Ontario, Kate Maki made a higher profile splash with 2008's far superior On High. Recorded in Arizona and produced by Howe Gelb, the lo-fi alt country wizard behind Giant Sand, On High is the sound of a talented singer/songwriter finding her artistic voice by traveling out of her comfort zone. It's not fair to say that On High is a better album than its predecessors because of Gelb's contributions, because these 11 songs don't sound much like Giant Sand, Lisa Germano, or any other artist Gelb has worked with in the past. It's more of a matter of Maki having a better sounding board than she did previously, which leads to idiosyncratic but rewarding songs like the delightful "To Please," which is built on a pre-rock Tin Pan Alley arrangement for clipped ukulele strums and clip-clopping percussion, or the brief and charming "Badminton Racquet," which features a full chorus of whistling prior to its sole verse. Either would have sounded wildly out of place on her earlier albums, but here they nestle perfectly against the late-night country-rock mood music (complete with sighing pedal steel) of "Message Forgot" and the piano-led, echoing atmospherics of the spooky "Behind the Sun." An inventive, entertaining album filled with songs that are just exactly as long as they need to be (over a third are under two minutes apiece, and the whole album is over in just about a half hour), On High is the sound of a singer/songwriter making her true debut three albums into her career.

Customer Reviews

WXPN Featured Song - Blue Morning

Born and raised in Ontario, Canada and a Science and French teacher when she's not playing music, singer-songwriter Kate Maki is about to release her third album, On High produced by Howe Gelb on his label, Ow Om Records. Kate's made an acoustic record and it's a work of simple beauty. The playing is live and neither overplays or underplays. Kate has a conversational vocal style - a little like Lucinda Williams - that's plaintive, welcome and warm. You can hear the space between the notes and the sighs between the chord changes. Sometimes this record reminds me of Neil Young's After The Goldrush in that it touches emotions with effortless sentiment and it also reminds me of Arkansas' Iris DeMent's country-folk classic Infamous Angel. ~ Bruce Warren - WXPN

Biography

Born: Sudbury, Ontario, Canada

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '00s

A grade-school French teacher by day, Kate Maki spends her evenings as a folksy singer/songwriter, singing her material in a half-spoken manner and strumming her guitar like a percussive instrument. Born and raised in Sudbury, Ontario, Maki didn't fully pursue music until several years into her teaching career. Her debut album, 2003's Confusion Unlimited, received accolades for its mix of folk and alt-country, and Maki returned the following year with The Sun Will Find Us. Both albums earned top...
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On High, Kate Maki
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