Singer Maya Spector Knows the Honey and the Heartache: A CD Review

Need soothing sounds during a Lockdown walk by the sea? Or a lullaby during visual contemplation on a red apple? Maybe you’re considering distancing (and not socially this time) from a relationship that hurts. Or just turning off all radios and TVs and listening to your soul sing through someone else’s pulses. Honey & Heartache just might be for you.

This debut album by Capetownian singer and song-writer, Maya Spector, will resurrect memories of a poignant experience you once had with someone, or just remind you about the quirky randomness of life.

Spector voices experience with life’s challenges, having grown up with rich international opportunities for wide travels and country residences, thanks to her American diplomat father and musically endowed Capetownian mother. Spector mingles Jazz with Soul, if such labels can be adequately justified, and tells her stories, sometimes intimately, about loves and painful separations. Her earlier hit single, “Eyes for You”, made waves among fans, hinting at more heart-throbbing songs to come on this album.

And heart-felt they are, thanks to Spector’s glassy clear vocals and careful pitch that doesn’t pierce, but rather convinces one that her stories are true. Hers is a pleasant duo of engaging melody with emotive lyrics that feel, search for, and exude pain and resolve, all carefully controlled by sometimes happy, sometimes sassy, sometimes bluesy inflections in her voicings.

Her official video entices. https://youtu.be/seoRxv3hx8M. Like the album, it pulls you into her light-heartedness with a mellow swing and then moves into darker passages as her voice makes melancholic pitches, straining to hold back tears.

As the album reaches ïts middle with “Anchors Away”, she queries: Do I stay or go? Am I loosing love and drifting? What is the sky saying? I’m floating. Then, a “Bittersweet” goodby. One hears trumpeter, Tumi Pheko, wail in the breakup. The album ends with a formidable vocalizing of the popular South African lullaby, “Thula Baba”, based on the children’s story, “Goodnight Moon”, which seems to resolve Spector’s quest for who she is.

Band members are well known session artists from Cape Town’s music arena. Graham Ward (worked with Paul McCartney, Tom Jones, and Ray Charles, among others) on drums and percussion proudly did the digital mixing through his Wardwide Music. The young pianist Nobuhle Ashanti and versatile bassist/pianist Nick Williams take turns at keyboard, with Williams mostly on bass. The rare appearance of master teacher and Cape guitarist, Alvin Dyer, is welcomed, although not obvious on the songs as Spector and her own backup vocals carry this album’s weight.

As a global citizen, Spector has also performed in musical theatre, with notable performances in ‘Langarm’, ‘Rent!’, ‘The Silence of the Music’, ‘The Man of La Mancha’, ‘Jimbo’ and ‘My Fair Lady’. Her lyricist talents certainly developed there, as did her exposure to other political and cultural societies in Asia, the United States, and in South Africa.

Her catchy, sing-along tunes will linger on after a seaside walk.  Tune up to her album release soon on the various digital music platforms.  You won’t regret one second of sound!

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