Videos by American Songwriter


Maia Sharp
Crooked Crown
(4 stars)

Anybody could benefit from an advocate like Bonnie Raitt. And Maia Sharp has. Raitt cut Sharp’s songs, took her on tour and introduced her to Don Was. Was ultimately produced Echo, Sharp’s fourth album. But just because that studio partnership probably wouldn’t have happened without Raitt’s help, doesn’t mean it’s an undeserved one. The songs are so good it ceases to matter how a not very well-known singer-songwriter hooked up with a well-known producer like Was.

Sharp’s songwriting is, well, sharp. Or, to put it another way, it’s got bite. She’s a pop songwriter, it’s true, and her images and turns of phrase land near the tried-and-true, but they’re never merely cute, never trite, and often—because of her mixture of warmth, playfulness and cynicism—quite penetrating. It stings, for example, when she likens the uneven growth in a relationship to one partner discovering, like Columbus, that there’s a bigger world of romance to be explored in “Whole Flat World.”

Sharp’s jabs in these songs are aimed equally toward herself and others. As the album title foreshadows, by the end, her acknowledgement of human flaws rings like an all-encompassing echo. But it doesn’t feel heavy, because each song is carried by hooky, instantly pleasing melodies with appealing, sophisticated chords underneath.

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