by Michael Greenwood
With 10 songs clocking in just less than 25 minutes, Chances Are I Like You, the sophomore album from New Glasgow native, Mary Stewart, has a lot to offer.
Drawing inspiration from her song-a-day-project, which she pays homage to in “365”, she makes with each track a sonic adventure. The singer/songwriter demonstrates her talent with diverse songs from big band pop to piano ballads. For those who consider pop music as simple, let Mary shows you another side to the argument as her opus is surprising layered and melodically intricate.
The first track on the album, “Everyone’s My Husband”, an upbeat, catchy song, prepares the listener for the experience. Though Mary does not appear vocally on it, the combination of church bells with a barely audible synthesizer defines the vibe of this album: a vintage sound reborn with modern melodies and song structure.
“Go Anytime”, the first single of the album, continues the dynamic musical landscape that Mary created in “Everyone’s My Husband”. The bass and electric guitar work so well together in establishing a groove over a drummer, which maintains the backbeat, but never overpowers. Mary never takes away from this dynamic cooperation; her singing is always powerful and she never extends beyond her range.
What is fascinating and addicting, about the vocal stylings on this album is how the singer approaches and delivers each lyric. Even when she showcases her dynamic vocal range with just a guitar, on tracks like “Follow You” and “Erase Rewind”, she never loses that universal appeal; that big pop element. Throughout the album, you can hear her unique musical style within her singing; but also in the instrumentation, as it is quite varied. She chooses to go old school with bells and organs, but then introduces modernity with synthesizers and crisp distortion. This can be found in her somewhat contradicting lyrics that seem introspective, but allow the listener to find whichever vibe they want within the composition. Her choruses are radio ready and though it sounds as if she is singing to a room full of crowded people, her realism and heartfelt lyrics leave you with the feeling of individuality; as if you are the only person in the room and she is singing to you.
Chances Are I Like You is an incredibly rich album full of layered melodies and all the beautiful elements that pop music these days is striving to employ. This album is meant to be played loud. Every song has the potential to be a hit; and even though the stripped down compositions could be much larger and more exciting with added instrumentation, it is a nice introduction to the artist. No matter who is listening, anyone can relate to Mary Stewart’s lyrics that are simply about life, as we know it.