You Gotta Sin to Get Saved by Maria McKee on Apple Music

10 Songs

EDITORS’ NOTES

After the splintering of her band Lone Justice in the late 1980s, singer Maria McKee took some years to find her way artistically. You Gotta Sin To Get Saved (1993) was more than a return to form — it marked her full emergence as an artist in command of her talents. While the album reunited her with former bandmates Marvin Etzioni and Don Heffington, its approach was a step away from the neo-L.A. country rock of her Lone Justice days. McKee wades into steamy R&B terrain on “I’m Gonna Sooth You” and rises to glorious gospel heights on “I Forgive You.” Much of the album invokes the Woodstock-era sounds of the Band and Van Morrison — “My Girlhood Among The Outlaws” in particular strikes a roots-rock note. (The sonic link with Morrison is made explicit by a pair of well-rendered Van the Man covers as well.) The title track is a fiercely woozy New Orleans sing-along that lets Maria wail with the abandon of a not-quite-sorry sinner. And, yes, there is a honky-tonk tune (“Only Once”) to please her older fans. An ambitious creative stretch, You Gotta Sin To Get Saved remains McKee’s best-realized work.

EDITORS’ NOTES

After the splintering of her band Lone Justice in the late 1980s, singer Maria McKee took some years to find her way artistically. You Gotta Sin To Get Saved (1993) was more than a return to form — it marked her full emergence as an artist in command of her talents. While the album reunited her with former bandmates Marvin Etzioni and Don Heffington, its approach was a step away from the neo-L.A. country rock of her Lone Justice days. McKee wades into steamy R&B terrain on “I’m Gonna Sooth You” and rises to glorious gospel heights on “I Forgive You.” Much of the album invokes the Woodstock-era sounds of the Band and Van Morrison — “My Girlhood Among The Outlaws” in particular strikes a roots-rock note. (The sonic link with Morrison is made explicit by a pair of well-rendered Van the Man covers as well.) The title track is a fiercely woozy New Orleans sing-along that lets Maria wail with the abandon of a not-quite-sorry sinner. And, yes, there is a honky-tonk tune (“Only Once”) to please her older fans. An ambitious creative stretch, You Gotta Sin To Get Saved remains McKee’s best-realized work.

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5:52

About Maria McKee

After making her name as the gritty, soulful lead singer of roots rockers Lone Justice, Maria McKee embarked on an often-rewarding solo career. A native of Los Angeles, McKee was born in 1964; her half-brother was Bryan MacLean, the guitarist and sometime singer of the groundbreaking psychedelic band Love. After studying musical theater as a teenager, McKee started performing on the L.A. club scene in a duo with MacLean and also teamed up with local blues singer Top Jimmy (who inspired the Van Halen song of the same name). A roots-music scene sprang up in L.A. during the early '80s, and McKee -- a country music fan -- met like-minded guitarist Ryan Hedgecock; the two co-founded Lone Justice in 1982, and with McKee often composing material, the group became a local favorite. They signed with Geffen on the recommendation of Linda Ronstadt, but in spite of highly positive media attention, their two albums -- 1985's Lone Justice and 1986's Shelter -- failed to sell well, hampered by slick production and a sense of not-quite-fulfilled potential. McKee went solo after the latter record and released her self-titled debut in 1989, with Mitchell Froom producing.

McKee scored a critical breakthrough with her second album, 1993's You Gotta Sin to Get Saved, which was helmed by Black Crowes/Jayhawks producer George Drakoulias. Its rootsy, countrified rock and McKee's ever more powerful vocals led many reviewers to call it her most fully realized work to date. She went on to contribute the song "If Love Is a Red Dress (Hang Me in Rags)" to the hit soundtrack of Pulp Fiction, and in 1996 she released a third solo album, the much artier Life Is Sweet, on which she played all the guitar parts. McKee subsequently took a hiatus from recording, during which time she extricated herself from her deal with Geffen in search of greater creative control. She finally returned in 2003 with another ambitious record, High Dive. In 2004, McKee issued Live in Hamburg, her first released concert outing. It was followed by Peddlin' Dreams in 2005 and Live Acoustic Tour 2006. Late December appeared in 2007 from Cooking Vinyl Records. ~ Steve Huey

  • ORIGIN
    Los Angeles, CA
  • BORN
    Aug 17, 1964

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