Maria McKee – Peddlin’ Dreams

peddlindreams.jpg Here’s a tip for people who perhaps got into U2 during the Joshua Tree tour and dug that scene that involved The BoDeans, Maria McKee, Robbie Robertson and the Dalton Brothers. If you wondered what happened to Maria and why you haven’t heard from her recently: she isn’t signed to a major and has been putting our albums on her own label for the last couple of years.

Amazingly, this means she’s putting out MORE material than before. Most notably, 2003’s superbly bombastic – and yes, I mean that in a good way – High Dive. (If you were expecting more of that… you’re out of luck.)

Last year, she released Live in Hamburg CD, and now she’s back with a new studio album, Peddlin’ Dreams. Fans of her ‘old’ sound (the Lone Justice years and her eponymous debut album) should be quite happy with it.

On Peddlin’ Dreams Maria left the reigns firmly in her husband Jim Akin’s hands. She wasn’t involved in production, just showed up in their home studio whenever Akin thought the mood was right for a particular song.

Which means we get 12 more or less spontaneously recorded tunes showcasing Maria’s still beautiful voice. Folksy, ‘country rock’ type songs full of yearning and Americana with delightful, unexpected melodic twists and heartfelt vocals.

My only problem with the album is that maybe Maria sounds a little too too comfortable on some of the songs, not as hungry and driven as on her other albums. Could be a side effect of recording in the home setting?

But then there’s the joy of the last song on the disc, ‘(You don’t know) How Glad I Am,’ which evokes 60’s chansons, Piaf and Dusty Springfield and is reminiscent of classic McKee songs like Panic Beach. And though there’s no ‘Wheels’, or ‘Breathe’ and this may not be the ‘one’ Maria Mckee album you should own, Peddlin’ Dreams is a very welcome addition to my collection at least and more proof that Maria’s one of those what critics tend to call ‘criminally underestimated’ artists.

One more note of praise: the CD booklet, the perfect example of how an independently released album doesn’t have to look like arse.

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