Maurice James – Rare View – Review

Maurice JamesI live in St. Louis so I know Route 66 pretty well. It’s that classic highway that spans from Chicago to L.A. Many songs have been written about the highway and many musicians have traveled it to many amazing destinations. It sounds like this is just one of many roads that Maurice James has traveled in his life. His new EP gives us a Rare View at where all these roads have led him in the past and where these roads may just take him in the future.

Maurice James – Rare View

Maurice is a singer-songwriter based out of Los Angeles, CA, but he was raised on the West Side of Chicago. Raised in the church, you can hear the influence in his piano playing as well as his vocal performance. His music is a piano-based soul-pop and full of beautiful live piano. This is not just piano samples, but the real thing…actual piano playing! Real musicianship. This is something missing in a lot of popular music today and Mr. James brings musicianship back unapologetically.

The first song on his new EP is entitled “Rear View.” It’s a beautiful reflection on love lost and past experiences. And as beautiful as the song is, the true cleverness is in the wordplay between the song entitled “Rear View” and the title of the E.P. which is Rare View. All within this song we get the chance to experience both from Maurice. A rare view of his life as he looks in the rear-view mirror and reflects.

His song “Fall” sounds like a b-side from a Seal album from the ’90s. It is a really beautifully written song. Simple in its production yet flawless in its execution. Any aspiring songwriter should study this song to learn better how to form a well-constructed piece of art.

A lot of Maurice’s songs remind me of the classic pop structure of Seal mixed with some of the new school subtleties of someone like Frank Ocean. The vocals are strong with crystal clear intonation, but he doesn’t try to over-perform. He lets the songs speak for themselves. Singing his well-crafted melodies in their purest form allows the lyrics and harmonies supporting them to speak louder than any over-the-top, American Idol influenced vocal inflection every could. This is the true sign of an experienced performer as well as a true songwriter at heart. You can tell his intention is to let his songs come through and stand on their own ground instead of having to oversell them with production or performance. I love this about Maurice because his songs are strong enough to stand on their own. They are best digested in their simplest form which is what he allows us to do on “Rear View.”

Whether you find yourself traveling down one of life’s many mysterious roads, or you just need to take a pause to look back and reflect, Rare View is the perfect soundtrack for your trip. And after taking this brief look into what Mr. James has to offer the musical world, I think we will all be ready to see which road he goes down next.

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