Maggi, Pierce & E.J.,
(self-produced, 2000)

Maggi, Pierce and E.J. have been compared to Zappa, They Might Be Giants and Fleetwood Mac. On their fourth CD, a loving tribute to the late singer-songwriter Jeff Buckley, the sweet longing of Maggi's vocals conjures images of Suzanne Vega while the otherworldly interludes hearken to Pink Floyd.

Combining all of these musical influences, the Philadelphia-based trio creates a sometimes mournful, sometimes joyously haunting, always intriguing celebration of Buckley's inspiration. Some of the songs were written prior to their friend's death by drowning and some were written in response to it. The dark and tormented ballad "Burning the Sun" was written a month before Buckley's death. Their bluesy pleading lyrics to "Butterfly" were penned the day after they heard he was missing.

From the ethereal jazzy "Ferdinand" to the opening revival Alleluias and expansive harmonies of "JBird," floating, freedom and otherworldly bliss form a theme for this collection. "Not Hurting" features spiritual drumming and wordless yearning vocals. "12/12" highlights the instrumental strength of the band with a melody that seems to drift through the skies. In the final named cut in the CD, "Free," Maggi's ethereal voice soars.

Fans of the Buckley as well as devotees to the not-to-be-classified music of Maggi, Pierce and E.J. will be delighted with For, the "blue" CD and the only one with a name in addition to a color. For those of us new to the band, it's a tantalizing dip into the eclectic possibilities that await in the red, black and white covers.

With emotional lyrics, guitars that fluctuate from pounding beats to intricate string dances and a plethora of guest artists, including a chilling hidden track reprise of "Free" by Stephen "The Saw Guy" Christoff, Maggi, Pierce and E.J. create a dazzling testimonial to one of their great influences.

[ by Julie Bowerman ]
Rambles: 21 October 2001