Recommended Tracks: “Better”, “Wild Dogs”, “Cut And Run”
Artists You May Like: Sharon Van Etten, Lana Del Ray, Mitski
Whether it is a painting, a song, or a movie, art has a way of connecting with people. Its ability to fill someone with emotion, no matter where they are or what they are doing, is what makes art and music so fascinating to Maryanna Devlin. On her debut album, A Great Many Things, the singer-songwriter lets us into her world, taking us to football games in Indiana and seaside towns in Massachusetts. In the end, she uses music to help make sense of these moments in time and come to terms with any lingering emotions.
We go on a bit of a cross-country trip on A Great Many Things, as Maryanna recounts certain memories. On opening track “Gary Indiana,” she looks back on a football game she went to with her father. The trip was a way for them to bond and fix their relationship, which we sense through lyrics like, “As we drove through fields of golden / I tried to let it go” and “Why we gotta fight like this / Man it just ain’t right like this / Why don’t you just understand?” We then go to “Manchester By The Sea,” which has a warmer, more relaxed feel. Backed by a full band, Maryanna takes in the wonders of “one of the most beautiful places” she has visited, singing, “Let the cold air come / Open up the windows / Feel the ocean breeze callin’ me.” Still, she finds herself trying to run from some of the less pleasant memories she has of Massachusetts, as she describes on “Cut And Run.” Over a sweet folk pop production, she sings, “Growing up in Massachusetts feels so long ago / Long ago / Thinkin’ ‘bout those cold winter nights makes my chest tight” and “Guess I’ll go out to California where I heard stars are born,” hoping to start over.
In addition to these specific places, Maryanna takes us to others that are more general. On “Beautiful Boy,” she really opens up, the conviction in her voice bringing out a darkness as she sings, “The loveless kids still hang around the track / But it ain’t like the olden days / There ain’t no trains to take them back.” It is clear that she wishes the world could do better, which is a theme also heard on “Wild Dogs.” After sharing, “And did you know I used to live with wild dogs” and “And now I’m lost / I live with wild hogs,” there is a laughing motif of “Ha Ha Ha” that gives the track a sinister edge. The laughter builds up towards the end of the track, almost mocking Maryanna as she figures out where she is headed in life.
The emotional places Maryanna visits also come through, as we hear on “Timeline” and “Better.” On “Timeline,” she tries to take control over a situation from her past, singing, “You know I’ll never let you go / I won’t / I’ll delve into the past for a chance to get you back.” The faint sounds of birds chirping and the steady pings of the piano take the weight off Maryanna’s brooding vocals, smoothing over any discouraging feelings. With “Better,” she gives into doubtful feelings, asking, “What can I do that hasn’t already been done / Hasn’t already been done better?” and “What can I sing that hasn’t already been sung / Hasn’t already been sung better?”
Overall, A Great Many Things is a moving exploration of the past, present, and future. Maryanna gives us gorgeous descriptions in these tracks, making us feel as if we are time travelling with her to these places she remembers, taking in all they have to offer. She also lets these songs breathe on their own, giving us modest indie folk melodies and rhythms that do not overpower the heart of each track. Maryanna truly shows that she is capable of “a great many things” on this debut, and as long as she continues to expand her sound and speak from her heart, her music will get her there.
You can listen to A Great Many Things on platforms like Apple Music and Spotify.