Kate Maki – Head In The Sand

Kate Maki - Head In The SandI first heard the music of Kate Maki when she opened for Tegan and Sara back in 2004. Her style of alt-country and folk was very in at the time and I felt compelled to hear more from her. Nearly a decade and a half later, the rest of the world has moved on from alt-country but I find myself ducking back in hopes of a resurgence. I was delighted to see she had released a new record last June, her first in five years and sixth overall.

Much like her previous records, Kate stays true to her kitchen-tape sound with no-frills recordings that are to the point and pure. Nearly everything about her is sparse but Head In The Sand adds layers to the recordings that haven’t really been present in her music since The Sun Will Find Us, with husband Fred Squire and longtime collaborator Nathan Lawr adding instrumentation.

While the songs themselves were written during a particularly dark time for Kate nearly a decade ago, life got in the way of recording them, explaining the long gap since the release of her last record. It starts out like a funeral on Keep Right with an organ and a simple thumping beat as Kate asks “will I go straight to hell.”

Elsewhere, she faces regret and loneliness. On Before It Began, she knew defeat from the start as she sings “You and I won’t make it til the end/…it was over before it began.” On the chilling Dark Water, she creates a separation between what was and should be, while the final track Mother Ship acknowledges a sense of loss that closes with “The loss will stay the same.”

Head In The Sand is Kate’s most captivating record. Beyond the lyrics is a vulnerability in her performance as Kate taps into stronger musical blends while leaving her experiences front and centre. It rocks harder than she’s done before but bleeds heavier than her previous releases. All the elements are there.
Four stars

1. Keep Right
2. Head In The Sand
3. Before It Began
4. Nobody’s Queen
5. When I’m Lonesome
6. September Sun
7. This Place
8. Let It Run
9. Dark Water
10. So Long
11. Mother Ship

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