Last Friday not only saw Maren round off the UK leg of her Girl World Tour with a truly sensational show at London’s iconic Royal Albert Hall (a venue she told the audience that she’d dreamed of playing for a long time) but the release of “Reimagined”, acoustic re-workings of three of her already familiar songs. Available exclusively to stream via Apple Music this EP sees her collaborating with top Nashville producer Brent Cobb and recording the tracks with musicians live in Nashville’s historic RCA Studio A ” old school” style, single takes, no auto tuning.
While there’s no doubt that the new arrangements are absolutely stunning throughout (as a sucker for strings I particularly love their inclusion, especially the cello) it is definitely Maren’s vocals which are the EP ‘s stand out feature. Highlighting the soulful /rootsy side of her voice which I adore, together with her ever evolving control , she sings with such great instinct and emotion and Cobb makes sure all these aspects are showcased perfectly.
While Maren co-wrote two of the tracks, “Girl” and “The Bones” which I therefore assume were originally tailored to her style to a degree (and I totally love hearing how she gets even more lost in these new versions). I was particularly intrigued to hear her massive crossover pop/dance hit “The Middle” get the “Cobb treatment”. Surely this was the was biggest challenge of the three songs for both him and Morris on this project , largely as the original has so many technical” bells and whistles” in the mix. This acoustic version works so perfectly though, while it still has its pop vibe this stripped back format puts its lyrics to the fore …they really hit home with me and the pleading and frustration in Maren’s voice nearly broke my heart. As she says when talking about this release “I think the mark of a good song is you can rearrange it up and it’s still a very defining song” which is without doubt the case here, and I’m sure Maren would want credit extended to its many co writers. And I must add it also sounded wonderful performed with her own band at the Albert Hall where she told us it was the song that “changed my life last year”.
Apparently there is a short companion film to this release, with behind the scenes footage and Maren sharing the meaning behind the tracks, but I am new to Apple Music and also technically challenged so have yet to work out how to access it!! However this generally available clip gives at least some insight as to what went on in the studio and her thoughts on the project…
As well being in the audience last Friday I have also been fortunate enough to see Maren perform acoustically, and from what I have witnessed I find her a truly exciting and versatile artist. I really love this EP, and who knows what she will turn her talents to next…….. apart from her role as part of the new supergroup “The Highwomen” of course which is more than enough to excite me!
Review written by Lesley Hastings (twitter.com/lesleyhastings)