The May St. Project

Shea Seger

RCA Records, 2001

REVIEW BY: Matthew Turk


The first thoughts I had as the opening track of Shea Seger's The May St. Project, "Last Time" (which will probably be a single(, began to play were about the drum loops in the background. They weren't Terry Bozzio style innovating, or Keith Moon in frenzy, but they were interesting. In fact, as the CD wore on, they remained the only truly interesting part for me.

For the most part, "Last Time" is very unoriginal and boring. It's got a hook, but with Seger's flat-voiced delivery it fails. The first few times I listened to it I couldn't remember the melody after it finished.

However, before the faithful reader begins to disregard this review as a scathing portrait of an untalented artist, I feel I should allow for a few tracks that do speak to me. I rather enjoyed "Always," which featured interesting, almost off-key harmonizing in the background. Seger employs this technique a few other times, with surprising success.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

"I Love You Too Much" features an interesting melodic part, underneath the drum-loop and vocals, and while the Ani DiFranco impersonation she attempts is very nice, it still lacks something. It's enjoyable; and it follows the artistic diversion into drum-looping that is "Interlude: Rooftop Animals" well, but the emotional impact doesn't stay with me. The guitar solo that is inexplicably located in the middle is well-executed, and even well-mixed into the bathroom, but I feel it's more of an afterthought than an intentional inclusion.

When Seger exploits her voice, she creates a very interesting listening experience, as evidenced by "Walk On Rainbows," but this impact is very rarely explored. All too often she sinks into some kind of reflexive style that doesn't convey her meaning to the listener.

The tracks that are destined for singles stand a good chance of succeeding in the current market. The tracks that are clearly not, such as the previously cited ones, seem to contain a diametrically opposed voice and style to their companions.

I read some of the other reviews of the work; some called it innovative, synthesizing and one even compared it to Bob Seger. I couldn't find such reviews to be further from the truth. It seems derivative at best, and the idea that this woman takes the best of Janis Joplin, Otis Redding and Marvin Gaye is laughable.

The May St. Project was difficult to listen to. Not because it is bad music - it isn't really, but what it is tends to be very obfuscated. Seger hides beneath loud drum loops, meaningless guitar that sounds tacked on like a post-Phil Spector attempt at minimalism, and synthesizers. My initial reaction was of pure horror that she was such a phenomenon in Britain; but after several more listens I began to enjoy some of the songs, and even humming them as I walked around during the day. She certainly falls into the common pitfalls - distorted megaphone voice, anger at ex-es, and hooks. Sometimes they work. Sometimes they don't. If you're looking for a fresh new voice, don't pick this up. But if you want an enjoyable listen, then I would suggest you consider it.

As a side note, one of the major irritations I had with this CD was the number of fluctuations in volume. One track would be soft, another loud. This may be a result of the promo CD, although with the album in general release across the Atlantic I doubt this to be the case.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


© 2001 Matthew Turk and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of RCA Records, and is used for informational purposes only.