Words by Julian May
Painterly brushstrokes on a sophisticated canvas
‘For this album I didn’t want to hide behind historical disasters and mythological beasts at the expense of my own experience,’ states Maz O’Connor. So, instead of the folk songs that have featured in her previous work, The Longing Kind is an album of entirely original songs drawn mostly from her life. They are about being young, a daughter, home (and away from it), in love (and out of it). Maz O’Connor still does, however, feed on the tradition in which she is steeped, and the literature she studied at Cambridge (where her tutorials were held in a room which had been Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s bedroom). One song, called ‘Mother Make My Bed’, conjures up the refrain from the ballad ‘Lord Randal’, and there is a response from the Christian liturgy.
O’Connor includes songs inspired by familiar paintings, namely Millais’ Ophelia and The Execution of Lady Jane Grey by Delaroche. The subjects of the paintings speak, questioning the way the artist has fixed them in paint. O’Connor subtly questions her own art too; there is an inquiring intelligence as well as an emotional sensibility at work here. She sings and plays beautifully and Jim Moray, producing, brilliantly captures the various tones of the songs, with a lick of pedal steel guitar here, a burst of electric guitar there and some perfectly pitched trumpet.