3.5 out of 5 Stars
Maggie Rose | Have A Seat | (Starstruck Records)
Make no mistake. Nashville-based singer/songwriter Maggie Rose has no interest in living up to others’ expectations. That’s evident in her approach—one that leans on a soulful style that’s fueled by funky rhythms and brassy flourishes, as well as in an attitude that might seem contentious to some. It’s unusual to find an up-and-coming artist who’s so determined to do things her way. And yet, though it’s only her third album thus far, Have a Seat is daringly direct when it comes to its music and its messaging.
The strut and sass should come as no surprise, given that the album was produced by Ben Tanner of Alabama Shakes at the hallowed FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Her veteran cast of collaborators was, after all, well-versed in a sound that gravitates towards the classic rhythm and blues of the ’60s and ’70s. Many of the musicians—among them, bassist David Hood and guitarist Will McFarlane—played on records by Aretha Franklin, the Staple Singers, William Bell, Percy Sledge, Bonnie Raitt, and others who frequented that studio back in the day. Naturally then, they provide a solid groove throughout, and on songs such as “Best In Me,” “What Makes You Tick” and “Telephone,” the rhythms take charge.
That said, Rose maintains a dominant role, and given the assertive stance shared on “Saint,” “Do It” and “Best In Me,” it’s clear she’s intent on making certain views known. She’s said that the themes reflect the trouble and tumult that’s become all too apparent in recent years due to a lack of civility, increasing intolerance, and a general inability to communicate effectively. The album title underscores the need to rectify those wrongs and, instead, to come together, interact and avoid the divisive discourse.
The music is bold enough on its own, whether it’s the soaring chorus that graces “You Got Today” or the playful prose of “Help Myself.” Suffice it to say, Have a Seat makes it difficult to just sit still.