Music Review: 'Speak Deluxe' by Marla Mase
Confidently tramping through the combat boot worn path blazed by artists like Patti Smith and Karen Finley, New York based, envelope pushing artist Marla Mase's second release 'Speak,' soon to be released in a deluxe edition with six extra tracks, is a hardcore romp through the ins and outs of life as an artist, mother, woman, and frustrated resident of the United State of America.
Beginning with the primitive, jungle groove of "Scream (Reprise)", Mase leads listeners into a demented world of catharsis and neurosis - a world in which the artist, shunned and marginalized in the "real" world of day jobs, glossy magazine covers and even glossier people, is not only guide, but queen. And what type of queen rules this inverted world? A queen that's willing to "kill love, stab it [and] let the blood drip out of it, until it's dead". A queen that is willing to roar (literally) like a hungry lioness, fight for the anorexic, demand world peace, and sees her inspiration as divine, while also stressing over the decision to buy a new cell phone. "I'm the queen of imperfection," Mase brags on "Queen of Imperfection", a quirky, grungy rocker that celebrates the "cracked, flawed, defective" nature of the modern woman. "Ain't no cover girl," she continues. "My hair ain't combed / My house is a wreck / And I spend too much time on the internet!".
Ably backed by veteran New York funkster Tomas Doncker , who admirably fuses his signature brand of "afro beat and soul" with Mase's half spoken word, half melodic vocalizing approach, Speak is at it's best asa fearless, soul baring proclamation by a daring artist who makes no excuses for her approach and takes no prisoners on her exit. Though there are the obligatory high school poetry class like ruminations on world peace and social injustice (see the sophomoric "Piece of Peace", in which Mase demands, well, a "piece of peace"), the record is enlightened by the more personal moments that reveal the artist as more regular human being than soapbox standing teacher.
"Dance the Tango" is a quick, poppy little ditty about the death of a friend and the impersonal inadequacies of benign newspaper obituaries. "New Cell Phone" starts off as slowly grooving meditation on the decision to buy a new cell phone that quickly devolves into a Maggie Estep like neurosis cringe that explores the life changing implications of such a decision - something we've all gone through, I'm sure. "Smithereens" is a wispy love song delivered with a uniqueness only Marla Mase could muster: "You are my fear, my hate, my darkness / Explode me please, into smithereens." The record reaches it's pinnacle on the punk infused "Squirm" in which Mase proclaims her desire to "shut the shit down" and "squirm like a worm" in the underground. Spoken like a true New York City poet - defiantly independent and unwilling to give a shit what anyone else thinks. Highly recommended if you have the heart.