At this stage in her career, Marla Mase has earned a notoriety on par with Patti Smith and Wendy O. Williams. Her first album in over ten years (she took a break to travel and write some well-received erotica that would make 50 Shades blush), expands into less familiar territory than her two iconic female influences.
Half Life, available now to stream on Mase’s Bandcamp page, definitely contains her unique feminist take on post-punk, but many songs venture into other genres such as reggae, jazz, and even a little new wave. A great example is “I’m on the Move,” which combines this post-punk sensibility and feedback-driven guitars and a blues harmonica. Title track “Half-Life,” on the other hand, is a combination of electronic ambient pop and Dido-esque vocals, and is a complete departure.
Mase’s voice is a little rougher around the edges than Patti Smith’s, and her lyrical composition is also a little more rudimentary and folksy than Smith or Wendy O. Williams, but both of these elements give a great honesty to Half Life and showcase the loose, modern poetics of her songwriting. The diversity of style also shows that Mase isn’t afraid to shirk her aging punkstress mantle for the sake of creative growth.
The album is definitely worth streaming, and perhaps even buying. Mase will reach a much more diverse audience with Half Life, and in this case it’s a good thing. She can lull her audience with contemplative tracks, then hit them with her New York-inspired punkish flare. Click the link above to stream or buy Half Life, or check out www.marlamase.com for tour news and the odd erotic blog post. She is a rare talent, indeed.
Written by Layla Marino