MARYBETH D'AMICO "Waiting To Fly" (Self-Released)
With a pretty name like this, Marybeth D'Amico never has to look for an alias! With a remarkable voice like hers, she can also be sure everybody who heard her once, will know who she is a second time. Just like we recognize Iris DeMent immediately.
Marybeth grew up in New Jersey, she and her siblings sang along with the Peter, Paul & Mary records of their parents, later she got a leading part in her highschool musical. She became a professional journalist and after discovering Patty Griffin's music, she began writing songs herself. After Marybeth moved to Germany -and brought her cowboyboots- she co-founded the alt.country band Far From Home in 2003. Recently she started a solo-career, resulting in the release of her EP "Waiting To Fly". She likes to explore the darker side of everyday life, but also loves a great tune: "I like songs with catchy melodies that have something to say, I want listeners to hum along." With the production safely in the capable hands of the German "Mr. Americana" Markus Rill, sound and mix are just perfect! Marybeth plays guitar on two tracks, Markus takes care of all the other acoustic guitar parts, background vocals and harmonica, while some very good German musicians are gathered to play the various other instruments. Listen to the lapsteel on the intro of "Jimmy" and the piano solos that follow or the percussion and accordion on "Summa Cum Laude", do I need to say more? All different flavors of rootsmusic are present: alt.country, folk, little bits of blues, jazz and pop. Marybeth has no problem letting emotions shine through in her vocals, as a journalist she's also obviously interested in people and their stories.
"Jimmy" is a depressed teenager: "You feel that life has got no hope / That every dawn is grey / That every moment's like the next / And then they slip away". Although there are people around him, they don't improve the situation: "Mama says it's the pills that make him crazy / The doctors, they don't really give a damn / His uncle says the boy is just plain lazy / He should get up and take it like a man." "Summa Cum Laude" tells the story of a university student, almost cracking under too much pressure: "She's so smart, they say, and so pretty / If I have it all, why do I feel this shitty? / They say "she's gonna do her parents proud" / I say get me out from under this cloud", but this is why Marybeth's lyrics are typified as "sad with a silver lining": "I say a silent prayer every day and night that I make it to the golden shore". "Waiting To Fly" is the Alanis Morissette-like title track: "You're looking for a stage you can thrust yourself upon / But is the show already over or has it just begun / Has the curtain already fallen or is the encore coming on?" I love the comparison with "Those tiny baby birds there in the backyard". "Leaving" takes us furtheron in life, where a woman concludes in the key line: "You weren't there when you were needed" and goes looking for a better life: "She never spoke of her desire / To shuffle all the cards she had been dealt." "But she saw a ray of light on the horizon / And she went before the darkness could descend." Wonderful, with those layered harmonies! Last song "Woe", sparsely accompanied in a jazzy way by upright bass, accordion and percussion, tries to bring words of comfort: "If I only could help you to cross these waters / I'd give you my hand / But you must go alone through the lonely river / Find your own place to stand."
I'm impressed by this solo debut. Marybeth has a voice that you like or don't like, but at least she stands out in the dull "everybody sounds the same" department of lady-singers! And o.k., I'm slightly biased, I admit. My background is also in journalism and I wrote poems about a depressed friend, parents issues and aspiring artists too, even about a golden shore, if we fill in California there. Well, maybe that means Marybeth and I would get along great, if we would meet someday...
Written by Johanna J. Bodde, April 2007.