Very rarely can an album clinch a listener with the opening chord. However, Erin Tobey’s Middlemaze is a pleasant exception as the leisurely crawling bassline of ‘I’m Young’ transcends the listener into a starry folk soundscape beyond the gravity of conventional genre classification. Written over years of “moving slowly outward from deep within an interior world,” Middlemaze is a rich and reflective album about “life after being young.”
Tobey professes the strength of her love on ‘I’m Young’ with a tender, yet, calm and assertive voice “strong enough to move a mountain.” The minute-long intro sets a groovy tone and allows the ethereal vocals to pull the listener on a soothing journey. Tobey shows a distinct indie rock familiarity with the guitar heavy arrangements of ‘Medicine Garden’ and ‘Baby Monitor’ while the synth-charged ‘Work It Out’ and bouncy ‘Leaf Pile’ add enjoyable pop to the album. The smooth and slow ‘Lonely Daughter’ and ‘Flotsam in the Wake’ establish a strong folk foundation with the latter strolling at a pace similar to Iron & Wine hit ‘Cinder and Smoke’.
The entirety of Middlemaze shimmers with a soothing atmospheric coating, yet, each track possesses a unique autonomous identity. It’s been over a decade since Tobey’s self-titled debut and she returns on Middlemaze a matured and sophisticated vocalist who has crafted a beautiful style of her own.
Middlemaze release date June 3
Written by: Doug Leach (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Photo credit: Chaz Mottinger