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  • Late December
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Late December

11 customer reviews

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Audio CD, April 24, 2007
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

McKee's sixth solo album, co-produced with her husband Jim Akin. The album starts off with the spare urban groove of the title track, betraying Akin's passion for hip-hop, but Lone Justice fans need not despair. The rest of the album is boisterous, playful and resplendent with guitar player Jerry Andrew's Dicky Betts meets Jack White retro riffs.

Even in the early days of her solo career, Maria McKee had a penchant for penning dramatic melodies that seemed more conducive to Broadway than to contemporary radio. In fact, the former Lone Justice frontwoman makes reference to criticisms of that theatrical style in between songs on her "Live Acoustic Tour" CD. Pandering to no one, McKee continues to distance herself from her country roots on her sixth studio release, Late December, writing what might be best described as 'pop-ras,' miniature contemporary pseudo-operas sung in open-throated vibrato. "Destine" is a prime example, echoing Queen's "A Night at the Opera" with it's dramatic vocals and grandiose guitar solo. "Scene of the Affair" evokes a similar sensibility, as McKee mournfully sings "Four walls and a bed/best to let the dead rest with the dead." Those who prefer the old Maria will find a handful of songs to satiate their thirsty musical pallet. "My First Night Without You" has a soul/country cross that allows McKee to vocally shine; other notable moments include the gospel-infused ending to the title track and the infectious '60s Motown styling of "No Other Way to Love You." The one song that will likely please fans of both musical camps is McKee's inclusion of "A Good Heart," a track that she wrote at 18 years of age which became a worldwide hit for an Irish artist named Feargal Sharkey. --Denise Sheppard

1. Late December
2. No Other Way To Love You
3. A Good Heart
4. Power On, Little Star
5. Too Many Heroes
6. Destine
7. My First Night Without You
8. Scene Of The Affair
9. Cat In The Wall
10. One Eye On The Sky (One ON The Grave)
11. Bannow
12. Straving Pretty

Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 24, 2007)
  • Original Release Date: January 1, 2007
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Cooking Vinyl
  • ASIN: B000MRA88A
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #182,894 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Pete on April 26, 2007
Format: Audio CD
If you are unfamiliar with Maria McKee, you should first know that she is very diverse. You may love one song and hate the next. You may love one cd and want to return another. That does not fault Maria, but it does fault the listener, because I can hardly think of any music she has made that could be considered bad. Her music breathes life and energy, passion and poetry. I am not as big a fan of her 1996 album "Life is Sweet," but it has wonderful moments regardless and I couldn't fathom considering it a bad album. The problem with Maria's career has little to do with her own output and much more to do with her fanbase and the terror of modern radio. She began as a country, rock, pop singer. When she delved into Nine Inch Nails territory in 1996 and then into rock opera and theatrics in 2003, and headlong into folk music in 2006, many who had liked her before turned their heads away and sneered, and commented on forums like this one, that she was doomed if she didn't go directly back to her roots. Life is based on change, and so is Maria's musical output, which creates great anticipation for every new album. It is unfortunate that so much of her original fanbase is so closed minded, and that the much broader fanbase she could have, if this were a kinder world with more intelligent human beings, have not heard any of her amazing newer music, and probably have not even heard of her at all.

Is there a better cd than "Late December" that has been released this year? I have great doubt that there is. And yet, "Hannah Montana" gets a Billboard #1 when Maria McKee will not crack the Top 200.

If you asked me where to start with your Maria collection, I'd ask you to listen to the audio clips and see which clips most appeal to your sense of style.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By J. Gemmill on April 26, 2007
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
As my wife can attest, I am a mark for all things Maria - and have been since buying that first Lone Justice album back in 1985. Yes, of course, through the years she's evolved, exploring different musical terrains and challenging us fans - as all artists should. As far as this album: it's a sheer sonic delight that echoes the likes of David Bowie, the Drifters, Laura Nyro, Queen, Lou Reed, Bruce Springsteen and many others. Yet, as with all of her albums, the end result is 100-percent Maria: eccentric, heartfelt, theatrical and ... just plain addictive.

The finger-snapping title cut, about love on its last legs - or maybe just the fear of such ("baby, when can we start over?") - conjures NYC in winter with its bed of Nyro-like vocal flourishes and "Walk on the Wild Side"-esque spoken-word interludes. Another favorite: "No Other Way to Love You," which builds from its "On Broadway"-like intro to become ... well, I already used the word "addictive," but I'll use it again. It's a sweeping, hypnotic song about giving one's self over to love in total: "Want to talk about your wild horses/and the strength of 100 men/Attila and all his forces/couldn't keep me away from him ...." You'll feel Maria's sweat flying from the speakers, guaranteed. (Check out the guitar work on it, too.)

Other highlights: her cover of her own "A Good Heart," originally a hit for Feargal Sharkey way back when; the aching "My First Night without You"; the utterly poetic, operatic rocker "One Eye on the Sky (One Eye on the Grave)," in which she demonstrates why she's sometimes called "a punk Edith Piaf"; and the closing "Starving Pretty," in which she sings a song for starving artists everywhere: "lean on me, baby/we're going to make it/we're paperthin/we're gonna win....
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Jeff Miller on April 27, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Ahhhhh Maria. Still not doing what everyone expects of you. Why doesn't she play this? Why doesn't she record that? Why doesn't each new record sound like the last one? How do we solve a problem like Maria?

You little diva indeed.

In my opinion, the new album is flippin' brilliant. My favourite so far, I think. Truly. Amazing. No Other Way to Love You may be the most gorgeously perfect pop song she's ever recorded. I am 3 months sober and Power On, Little Star leaves me shaking and in tears. I LOVE Destine - killer hook in it. Would love to see her play it live. And Starving Pretty is rich and full and melodic and...again...Maria breaks my heart. Did I mention Late December? Uhhh, goosebumps. The end of a relationship? The end of a career? The end of a life? But still, the hope of starting over. Maria sees the bleakness but holds onto hope.

This woman is a genius. I cannot believe we have been blessed with five (count 'em, five) Maria albums since 2003. Around year 2000, I seriously wondered if we would ever hear from her again. I believe that LD is a more accomplished, cohesive album than High Dive. The production is stellar and exciting and Maria seems to understand now that, no matter what, her voice needs to stay front and center in the mix. She and Jim have done a remarkable job with this one.

Thank you, Maria, for a lifetime of music and passion and hope.

Life is sweet.

Caution: Rant ahead:
Why? Why? Why does every song/album that Maria records HAVE to be compared to some other sound/singer/genre, blah, blah, blah? Has the world not figured out yet that she is her very own universe, guided by her own insane muse? It's obvious. It's been obvious for a long time. She's not interested in doing the same thing twice. Ever. Let's all get over it. She's never doing an album of Bob Dylan covers. Ain't gonna happen! Record critics are truly out-to-lunch. Thank God for Thom Jurek!
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