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Curt IS Mayfield Bringing a Unique Personal Touch
L.A. Scene | Indian Trail, NC USA | 05/28/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Mayfield is the name of the band formed by Tears For Fears lead singer Curt Smith. The result is an album which showcases Smith's talent as a songwriter and producer as well as bringing a more personal touch than any other album he has been a part of during his career. This album really came out in an "underground" fashion. It was actually recorded back in 1996. Curt Smith formed his own label "Zerodisc" and the album was sold online in 1997. It wasn't until 1998 when the album hit stores. No big name record company or distribution.The name Mayfield is a play on Curtis Mayfield's name (i.e. Curt[Smith] is Mayfield). Curt Smith had split from his partner Roland Orzabal back in 1990 and the two went their separate ways. Roland kept the Tears For Fears name and continued to record using that name. Curt put out a solo album called "Soul on Board" which he wasn't very happy with. Curt and Roland would eventually reunite back for 2004 release "Everybody Loves a Happy Ending". Curt's main partner in Mayfield is guitarist Charlton Pettus who is also the album's co-producer. When Curt and Roland would reunite, Curt would also bring Pettus along. Other band members include Russ Irwin - Keyboards/vocals, Doug Petty - Keyboards, Shawn Pelton - Drums, and of course Curt Smith on Bass. The album follows the direction that Tears For Fears took with "The Seeds of Love" album. On this album Tears For Fears moved away from the synthesizers to a more "natural" sound. The "personal touch" to this album is very evident in three songs. "Mother England" is the best song on this album. Curt emigrated from his birthplace in Bath, England and now lives in the United States. This song really documents and justifies Curt's emigration. He doesn't knock his home country when he sings "I Don't Believe in Mother England", he says "I don't believe in imaginary lines (borders).... In the End its a solitary world". This song really captures the power of Curt's voice while Charlton and Russ really provide some great background vocals ("I don't believe in Mother") in almost a mantra fashion. The mantra fashion was always a favorite of mine in Tears For Fears so it's evident that Curt played a role contributing to it back in his Tears For Fears days. "Sun King" is possibly the most personal song on the album. When Curt and Roland split up, Roland would continue to record under the Tears For Fears name. On the album, "Elemental" (first album since the breakup), Roland wrote a song called "Fish Out of Water" which referred to Curt Smith. In that song Roland wrote "You always said you were the compassionate one, but now you're laughing at the Sun. With all your high class friends you think you got it made. The only thing that was made was that tanned look on your face.." . "Sun King" is a response back to "Fish Out of Water" (referring to Roland referring to himself as the 'Sun'). In Sun King Curt says "Solitude was your only choice, Bitterness your only voice". Clearly - some harsh words - makes for a good soap opera as well as good music. The good news is that the two put the bitterness behind them and reunited for the album (ironically titled) "Everybody Loves A Happy Ending". Another personal song is the opening track called "What are we Fighting For" - perhaps again another reference to his Tears For Fears days.This album gives Curt ample opportunity to shine with his vocals and songwriting - "Sorry Town", "Snow Hill" "I Don't Wanna Be Around", and "Jasmine's Taste" are good songs that are also catchy. The song "Reach Out" as a great acoustic rhythm that shows how Curt has moved to the "natural" sound.This is a very good album. The personal touches really help this album stand out. And it proves you don't need the big record company and the big name studio musicians to deliver a winning formula. Curt Smith really found his niche with Mayfield and the result is superb! This is an album you might have to listen to several times, but it will grow on you and stand on its own. Highly recommended."
J. Merritt | 12/06/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This was Curt Smith's one-and-done side project in between Tears For Fears' breakup and reunion, and it won't disappoint those who have enjoyed his work in TFF. Released in 1997, Mayfield's only outing bears a striking similarity to TFF, in fact, in part because of Smith's vocals but also in terms of the sound. The highlights for me are "Jasmine's Taste" and "I Don't Want to Be Around," both of which build to epic majesty in the chorus. It might have been nothing more than a way for Smith to keep his chops in form while waiting for a phone call from Roland Orzabal, but Mayfield is actually quite preferable to "Everybody Loves A Happy Ending," TFF's uneven and disappointing 2004 return. Pity this is in the "Shame It's Out-of-Print" File."