Search - Maria Mckee :: Life Is Sweet

Life Is Sweet
Maria Mckee
Life Is Sweet
Genres: Country, Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock
 
  •  Track Listings (12) - Disc #1

2003 reissue of the ex-Lone Justice frontwoman's 1996 solo album that's unavailable domestically. Spectrum. 2003.

      
   
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CD Details

All Artists: Maria Mckee
Title: Life Is Sweet
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 4
Label: Geffen Records
Release Date: 3/26/1996
Genres: Country, Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock
Style: Country Rock
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPCs: 720642481929, 766482577347

Synopsis

Album Description
2003 reissue of the ex-Lone Justice frontwoman's 1996 solo album that's unavailable domestically. Spectrum. 2003.

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CD Reviews

Jagged Little Diva, or Ziggy McKee, or in Utero Mariae?
scottanth | Blair, NE United States | 07/10/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"One of the other reviewers commented on how successful this album was at annihilating Maria McKee's commercial fortunes. Given the rich roots music repertoire and homey-but-sultry phrasing and vocal tone she had built up with Lone Justice and in her solo career, that's understandable. Why destroy a blueprint that works so beautifully? Well, in this case, it's because the new plan is also preciously valuable.This album has absolutely zilch to do with anything that Maria had ever done previously in her career. Gone are almost all traces of country or RnB influence. She replaces that with the distorted guitar (played by Maria!) cum orchestral arrangements approach Mick Ronson used on such David Bowie albums as The Man Who Sold the World, Hunky Dory, and Ziggy Stardust, while her lyrical and vocal approach here mirrors the nearly-psychotic confessional fury of Alanis Morisette, or, more accurately, Kurt Cobain, and uses a generally thinner tone in quieter moments than she used earlier in her career. Jarring rhythm shifts and vocal howls. Bracing guitar work. Most of the songs here reflect an obsession with abandonment, betrayal, pain, and multiple personality disorders. Not easy listening by any means! However, for the most part, the album resonates.A track-by-track assessment:1) Scarlover (9/10) - An angry whammy-bar riff, growling vocal savagery, and a soaring chorus very highly reminiscent of Bowie's early '70s space-rock shenanigans. Although I'm sure most Maria fans threw things at the stereo in dumbfounded dismay at hearing this, it's very good for what it is. Also, the bridge, with the Little Diva cooing in her "old voice," takes the song over the top.2) This Perfect Dress (8/10) - One of the quietest songs on the album. The spaghetti western instrumental track and vocal restraint make this the song on this album which most closely resembles her prior career.3) Absolutely Barking Stars (10/10) - What a great song - Maria croons like a female Chris Isaak in the verses, howls like Alanis at her most desperate in the chorus, and coos the title like Juliana Hatfield. And the fantastic distorted guitar riffs - the great chorus riff stolen from the bridge of "Ziggy Stardust" and the wailing break - that's Miss "Show Me Heaven" rocking out! Wow!!!4) I'm Not Listening (7/10) - The most abrasive cut on the album, dramatically contrasting the quiet, piano-driven verses with the jaggedly angular choruses, building up to a break in which Maria scream-shouts her guts out like Kurt in "Scentless Apprentice." This one has grown on me over time.5) Everybody (8/10) - Relentlessly unsyncopated pounding in the verses combined with a remarkably catchy chorus. This is the most radio-ready thing here - it's quite easy to imagine it on mid-90s radio, but of course Geffen Records viewed this album as a piece of manure and had no desire to market it, so.....6) Smarter (8/10) - Another soaring Bowiesque chorus. Roiling guitar work.7) What Else You Wanna Know (6/10) - Midtempo, interesting riff.8) I'm Awake (7/10) - The closest thing to a ballad here. Smooth orchestral texture.9) Human (6/10) - Another midtempo number with a brooding guitar riff. Maria uses her falsetto to good effect.10) Carried (4/10) - Yet another midtempo song, bland chorus, by far the most forgettable thing here.11) Life is Sweet (10/10) - After all the bitterness, anger, anxiety, and anguish of the rest of the tracks, Maria unleashes her valentine to humankind, a moving manifesto of compassion using detailed lyrical snapshots of her objects of affection. (Note: the only misstep in this masterpiece of a song, Maria's favorite in her own catalogue, is "this one is for the girl who says those voices in her head never leave her alone.... you're not crazy." Um, Maria, that would be the very dictionary definition of crazy....) She accompanies herself with subdued, clipped electric strumming while delivering one of her most impassioned vocals in a lullaby half-whisper. This track has a vulnerability reminiscent of Paul Westerburg's desperate romantic confessionals with the Replacements.12) Afterlife (8/10) - "Life is Sweet" erupts into this coda of squalling reverb guitars, sweet strings, tribally pounding tom-toms, and Maria's wailing glossalalia. Other fans have compared this to My Bloody Valentine, which isn't fair to that band's artistry. Most folks assert that the redux of "Life is Sweet"/"Afterlife" on Maria's next album, High Dive, is inferior, but that is, in my opinion, mostly because her vocal on that album until the coda is too restrained and mannered. I think that "Afterlife" is far, far better on High Dive, because it gives a greater centrality to Maria's vocalizing and provides much more convincing instrumental evidence that life is indeed sweet.What more can I say about this album? that its commercial fortunes were tragically unfair. that Maria fans tend to be far too critical of what is a near-masterpiece just because it doesn't sound like the Maria they first warmed up to. that, although it's not what she'll be remembered for, it's the best thing in her catalogue. that you should write to Geffen and lambast them for deleting it. that you should write to the Little Diva and tell her thank you. Purchase used and enjoy."
Completely Overlooked
R. M. Ettinger | Cleveland Heights, OH USA | 04/12/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This disk is about 7 yrs old and still reguarly rotates through my cd players - portable, office or car. I bought it without ever hearing a thing from it - because really, what outlets does someone like Maria McKee have to get her music out to the public?I had always liked McKee's work in Lone Justice and some of her solo work. Her first two solo albums never seemed to reach the full potential of her Lone Justice work. 'Life Is Sweet' isn't like that. Maria, producing herself, seems to have pulled off what others have not been able to when working with her. I believe she truely found her sound. Technically, she's not a great producer, and that works in her favor.The opening track, "Scarlover" ranks as one of my favorite songs - ever. That is saying something. But other songs on the album certainly are pretty incredible ("This Perfect Dress", "Absolutely Barking Stars" & "Life Is Sweet").Some of the songs seem busy and over the top in places ("I'm Awake", "I'm Not Listening"). This is where some subtler production could have worked in her favor, yet somehow works with the over album. The strings on "I'm Not Listening" are reminiscent of Kate Bush's "Under Ice" from 'Hounds of Love' - really really conveying the emotion of the song.There is definately a theme of duplicity that runs through the entire disk ("Carried", "I'm Not Listening"). And another or parallel theme of 'growing throughout life' is present on the disk.I find - and as you'll see in some of the other reviews I've written - I seem to really end up liking music which at first seems difficult to listen to. It usually ends up becoming my favorite.I know this disk is out of print - but it seems available on import. If you can find it used in a 2nd hand store or ebay, etc, I would suggest picking it up and giving it plenty of listens before you might appreciate it."
Addictive Listening
J. Gemmill | Oreland, PA USA | 02/24/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

""Life is sweet, bittersweet, and the days keep rollin' along ..." Where once the absolutely sweet Maria conquered the rough terrains of country-rock, this 1996 foray feasts on feedback, discordant chords and lyrics that at first listen make little sense, all wrapped inside a package of glitter rock that's far rawer than anything the Zig-meister ever released. You gotta love it. What makes this so great is the music itself, which pushes, punches, grabs and kicks with all of the ferocity of Maria's muscular live shows, which have always rocked much, much harder than her studio albums. Lyrically, too, she discards straight ahead explorations of life and love of her previous releases in favor of the scarred lovers, damaged psyches and shattered souls shunted aside by society. In so doing, she's shaped an album that's more than just a rewarding listen. It's a reflection of the jagged, subconscious streams that course through all of us--though we may be loathe to admit it."