Mya Rose,
Breaking Free
(independent, 2006)

Breaking Free is Mya Rose's third CD. This singer, songwriter, poet and guitarist hails from the Outer Banks of North Carolina, she plays folk-rock with an occasional touch of the blues and spoken word, and she sounds like she just likes to jam a lot to see what happens.

"Do you Smile" is a cool, somewhat bluesy, folk-rock piece. The tempo is slow and the song is led alternately by the harmonica or the electric guitar. Lyrically, the song is a mix of positive and negative. She almost sounds hesitant and unsure of herself. "When I'm down, I guess ... I guess I find my inner strength and I ... I pick myself up off the ground." Be warned, Mya drops the "F-bomb" in this song, so if cussing turns you off, keep that in mind.

"Cold Ones" sounds like it was recorded live -- in one take ... after a couple cold ones were consumed. The problem here isn't so much Mya as her backup singer, Nora Hartlaub. Nora isn't quite in tune with Mya and often seems to be lost with the lyrics. Nora has trouble finding her voice. She starts out sounding like a little girl, but briefly switches to sounding like an old lady with a cracking voice. I find it grating. This is the worst selection on Breaking Free.

Mya heads in to the land of spoken word with "Breaking Free," which sounds like something you would expect to hear at open mic night down at the local coffeehouse when the poets and beatniks come out. The only thing missing is snapping from the audience at the end. Mya talks about everything she wants to break free from, including time, gravity, lust, money, rules and regulations. This short, 90-second track ends with her singing (repeatedly) "I want to break free."

The various artists backing Mya up on Breaking Free have various degrees of talent. While there are those that add to what you'll hear, there is at least one that detracts from the CD to some level. Nora Hartlaub provides backup vocals and plays bass. Alfred James and Emily Devan can be found on cellos. Ryan Cavanaugh handles the banjo. Caleb Jacobs is in charge of electric guitars, but also plays base and the "coffecup/snare." Doug Leal pounds the drums and provides percussion. The harmonica is in the mouth of Steven Magliano, except when he is on the sax or providing some backup vocals. Kim and Kevin McCabe also sing backup. And last, but not least, are the chirpings of Hatteras Island crickets on the last track.

Breaking Free has 16 tracks. Take out about half-dozen of them and you would have a decent (if short) album. If you like spoken-word or off-key backup vocals, then you might disagree with my assessment. There is arguably some talent here, but sometimes when you jam, you come up with duds. It is too bad they were placed on the album as well.

[ visit the artist's website ]

review by
Wil Owen

21 February 2009

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