Mariya May’s new album Call Me Back if You Can Dig the Music finds the soulful, Portland-based songstress helming a deft concoction of lush neo-soul, rafter-rattling dub reggae, and verdant folk addled adages to love and loss, all shot through with a keen pop sensibility and strident lo-fi attitude.Call Me Back if You Can Dig the Music manages to listen as both vintage and modern at once, familiar and yet fully in its own element. This album is definitely not short on either vision or listenability, and many of the tracks here are well worth some repeat plays.
Mariya’s vocals are always a strong centerpiece in all her recordings, utilizing a delivery that’s part Hope Sandoval and part Amy Winehouse, a blending of breathy wispiness and soul maven croon that floats and flutters through the album’s arrangements like confetti, at times demanding total attention and at others blending into the background like another instrument.
Mariya’s lyrical themes often dwell long on scenes of love, attraction, loss, and places in between, adding to the classic throwback vibe and lending a heart sweet quality to the album’s overall feel. Songs like the swirly and melodic “Out Walking”, the Winehouse-esque “Like Birds in the Spring”, and the richly textured “Let it All Fall Free” offer up odes to that sweetest of sentiments, while others like the bass-driven reggae shuffle of “Open Up (It’s Cold)” deal reciprocally with the fallout of desire and faded love. Other tracks have a characteristically bubbly, carefree quality about them, such as the slightly country battered jaunt of “Deep Into the Trees”, or else a gravity of their own, as with blue-eyed soul toe thumper and album standout “I Remember”. Filling out the song roster are the dubbed out shimmer of “From a Loft We Looked Across” and the melancholic beauty of “Bells Ring”.
Finally, following nine original compositions, Call Me Back if You Can Dig the Music pulls in a nicely diverse set of cover tunes to finish out the record, starting with a somber psych soul rendition of The Delta 72’s “Just Another Let Down”, moving on to a Caribbean interpretation of the Mountain Goats’ “Orange Ball of Love”, and finishing out with the lingering singalong chorus refrains of Trampled By Turtles’ “Repetition”.