CD REVIEW: Mesa Jane - Level
by: Cyrus Rhodes
Artist: Mesa Jane
Label: Midas Concept LLC
Genre: New Age Pop, Ambient Vocal Pop, Alternative Rock
Sounds Like: Enya, Sarah McLaughlin, Feist, Regina Spektor, Lana Del Rey, Berlin, St. Vincent, Portishead
Technical Grade: 8/10
Weakness: Winded Songs, More solo segments, More vocal power and risk-taking
Pennsylvania based Singer/Songwriter Mesa Jane just released her latest release entitled “Level” in 2014 (Midas Concept). Citing from her bio: Mesa Jane made positive waves in the local music scene with the release of her first full-length album. The debut album, Spandex Heart, is a soulful and emotional expression of life, love, loss, and new beginnings. Shortly after the release in late 2012, Mesa was chosen for a Philadelphia Folk Festival showcase, and received bi-coastal radio play. She was also a featured artist on Reverbnation and her CD received positive reviews locally and nationally. She's back with her Sophomore album - set for 2014 release! A wonderfully woven mesh of 80s synths and live instruments, it brings both upbeat feel-good tracks and darker, insightful songs. The first single is already receiving rave reviews and her sounds has been described as "The Yeah,Yeah,Yeahs meets Ellie Goulding".
The CD methodically and gently takes flight with Haunt You” a striking yet smooth intro groove that serves up inviting vocal presence, meshed against impressive musical ambience, electronic-based rhythm section and mesmerizing vocal delivery. Track 2 “Lay Your Arms Down” my personal favorite presents a melodic yet hypnotic follow-up statement with methodical musical flow built against passionate melody that flows and ebbs its way through to emotional fruition. Track 3 “Love You Endlessly” delivers a sultry vocal delivery from Jane meshed against impressive sonic ambience, and thought provoking lyrical content. Right from the starts I would classify this music as New Age Pop, or Ambient Vocal Pop, meshed with the better touches of Alternative Rock popular in the 90's. The production quality is impressive for a DIY artist, and the musical abilities and production touches/strokes of everyone involved is clearly above the bar. Along the way you will notice a wide array of instrumentation with things like well-placed Sampling and Electronica-Dub Sound Effects, Piano, Rhythm Guitar, Bass, Sporadic Percussion, Piano, lush Harmonies all built upon an electronic rhythm foundation. Jane delivers an impressive Mezzo Soprano and it fits together like a hand in glove. She fills the sonic space peacefully and unobtrusively. Her infectious vocal style is cut from the cloth of Enya, Sarah McLaughlin, Feist, Regina Spektor, Portishead, Berlin and St. Vincent. Sometimes she even reminds me a lot of Lana Del Rey. It definitely works well within the confines of this New Age, Sonic-Pop catalogue. I also like how their vocals flow and ebb with the music. Jane has an appealing look and delicate mezzo-Soprano delivery meshed with a falsetto reminiscent of Sarah McLaughlin. All the Engineering aspects check out (Recording, Mixing, and Mastering) as the CD possesses solid low end punch and crystal clear high end clarity. “Level” from Mesa Jane delivers 11 compelling tracks that provide an interesting cross section between Sonic Pop and New Age Alternative. All 11 pieces are captivating, positive, passionate and consistent. From invigorating “Don’t Stop” to striking to amazing “I Won’t Take it Anymore” to dynamic “Happen Again” to methodical “Coming Trough” and "Why Don’t We” to heartfelt “Meet You There” this CD has something for just about everyone. “Level” ends with track 10 “I Can’t Feel” and the remix of Track 5 “I Won’t take it Anymore” the perfect finale for a CD of this caliber.
All songs over 3.5 minutes tend to drag you to the finish line. I wish there were a few more solo segments throughout the CD. I wish I heard more vocal power and overall risk-taking from Jane, taking it up a notch vocally revealing more in the way of raw emotion – especially during the faille moments of her music. For the most part Mesa Jane elects to play it relatively safe thought steering clear of any of the aforementioned. Cover art is a bit lacking.
I like everything about Mesa Jane. She possess a powerful yet clairvoyant sound that is and she lot of potential as their sound will no doubt evolve and grow over the years to come. The music is compelling, passionate, melodic, uplifting and mesmerizing.