Search The Line of Best Fit
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Under the New Light is Maia Friedman's immersive and intricate solo debut

"Under the New Light"

Release date: 11 March 2022
Maia friedman under art
14 March 2022, 17:03 Written by Daisy Carter
Under the New Light may be Maia Friedman’s debut solo album, but she’s by no means a rookie of the game. Possessing a career’s worth of experience playing in other bands - most notably Dirty Projectors and Coco - here Friedman steps out from the shadows with a record that represents the culmination of her previous work.

As with these past projects, collaboration lies at the heart of Under the New Light. Produced by Coco co-member Dan Molad, the album’s conception (and indeed, much of its recording) dates back to 2017 and Friedman’s work with fellow Uni Ika Ai bandmates, Tom Deis and Peter Lalish. The result is a collection of tracks which achieve the strange feat of fostering a sense of intimacy without actually revealing much about Friedman herself. Her voice encodes emotion in a manner akin to Laura Marling or Adrienne Lenker, and yet the writing leaves space for the listener to project their own feelings or experiences onto her words.

Take opener “Where the Rocks Are” – a gentle, piano led number guided by steady drumbeats, its deliberately expansive arrangement and natural imagery form a sonic cocoon, inviting us to drop our shoulders and exhale deeply. This idea of reconnecting to the Earth is weaved throughout the record via Friedman’s lyrics, which, tinged with spirituality, manage to evoke the current penchant for wellness adages without being twee: “Wait as the roots find their way / They’ll grow deeper with each passing day” (“First to Love”); “I’ll take everything in stride / Soft and true on the tide” (“Happiness”).

Undeniably beautiful though these tracks are, a slight sense of stasis begins to creep in around the album’s midpoint, the listener having been thoroughly lulled by Friedman’s delicate vocals and swirling synth lines. “Raintime for Yohei”, then, provides a welcome shift to a denser, more textured sound, while the intentionally glitchy production of “Interlude” refreshingly undercuts the track’s almost pastoral feel. This more varied second half comes to a triumphant conclusion with “A Sleep in the Garden” – an unexpectedly upbeat track which uses clap-like drum loops and breathy vocalisations to steer the album’s heretofore melodic folk into foot-tapping, alt-pop territory.

As a whole, Under the New Light may have benefitted from a few more of these pace-changing pop flourishes, or perhaps a more condensed track list, in order to assuage any whisper of monotony. Nevertheless, Friedman’s debut solo work demonstrates cohesion, clear vision, and a keen belief that music can be a balm for the soul. Aptly released just shy of the Spring equinox, this record – like the season – inspires a sense of healing, renewal, and yes, new light.

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