One thing music has taught me is that if at the very core of the song there is a great melody, then it doesn’t matter how you dress it up, experiment with it, change the style, lay the production on thick or completely strip it down…if you’ve got a great melody, you’ve got a great song. And people will keep listening. Case in point “Winter Tree Sessions”, an EP by Mav Chamberlain filled with great melodies. Mav Chamberlain is a Canadian singer, songwriter, guitarist and producer. Born in Nanaimo, BC, Mav played guitar in original rock bands, made records and toured the area for a number of years before moving to Edmonton, AB. There he continued on in the same tradition until deciding to branch out as a solo artist/singer in 2006 under the moniker Mericana. Mav states that: “The Winter Tree Sessions EP is a collection of somber acoustic songs written and recorded throughout 2009 during a time of transition, loss and hope for a better future. The lead-off single “Tidal Waves” is a song about the pain of being with someone who brings chaos and strife into your heart.”
Artists can go through phases or styles and still produce fantastic music within that genre or just music that works with no pigeonholing at all. Same here for Mav Chamberlain as he moves away from his progressive rock musings, and into an acoustic ambience, without losing the ability to create diverse atmospheres and sonic textures. Mav’s talent for songwriting continues to amaze me and his musicianship continues to grow and only adds depth to the soul of his music. The Winter Tree Sessions isn’t an EP to casually listen to, the lyrics will pull you in and the music will hold you captive if you allow it to.
Starting from the best track of the bunch, for me at least, the fragile and bewitching “Carry The Load” immediately transfixes by waves of cascading drums, guitar, and atmospheric touches as well as Mav Chamberlain’s raspy voice switching between falsetto and melancholy tones like a man possessed. It’s a tremendously moving track, and quite different to anything I’ve heard from him before. The distorted lead solo just brilliantly kills it at the end of the track. Without it this song would have had a completely different meaning for me.
The single, “Tidal Wave”, which opens the EP, has Mav’s whispery, moody and purring voice keeping you coming back for more. The bittersweet beauty of the music and lyrics are just a wonderful bonus. The texture is rich, and the poetry, thoughtful on “Imagining (lullaby)”, but clocking in at only 2:46, it ends all too soon. The acoustic instrumental “Distance” closes the EP.
This is an incredibly strong EP, one of the best I’ve heard in quite some time. I’m lucky to find maybe ten albums a year I really, really enjoy an awful lot, and this will most definitely be up there among them, the other is an EP by Mericana…either there is something strange going on, or it is trying to tell you something!