MARIA McKEE – ” La Vita Nuova “

Posted: March 17, 2020 in CLASSIC ALBUMS, MUSIC
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Sunday, 17th November 2019. It’s a sharp evening in the capital as winter starts to bare its teeth. Inside the 200-capacity Moth Club in East London, a spry, defiant Maria McKee faces the sold-out audience of her first London gig for over a decade. “Queers to the front!” she commands, before asking a phalanx of male fans to clear some space so that the guests of honour – the people for whom this fundraiser has been arranged – can be near the stage. An awkward minute follows. No one moves. For a moment, McKee’s composure is ruffled.

What’s clear is that this is not a standard Maria McKee gig and neither is this quite the same McKee. Much has changed. Proceeds from tonight are going to the singer/songwriter’s See Me Safe initiative, helping trans women with funds for facial feminisation surgery. In the last couple of years not only has McKee come out as someone whose feelings for women are stronger than for men, thrown herself into the East London LGBTQ+ scene and become a vocal activist in support of her trans friends, she’s also made the album of a lifetime – and not for the first time, either. Maria McKee has been out of the proverbial spotlight for some time, her creative talents re-engaging with her first love of acting, performance and the musical tapestries that accompany such activities.

Candid and passionate, she’s, quite simply, had a beatific awakening and in a crescendo of prose, her new album La Vita Nuova unlocks her story, sketching out her journey that started many moons ago when she sang in her bedroom with her older brother, the late, great musical innovator Bryan MacLean.

Along the way she retooled punk and country in Lone Justice, released a string of evocative and eclectic solo records, wrote chart topping hits and touched millions of people before seemingly disappearing…Some of the new album sounds like modern show tunes for musical extravaganzas that are still to be penned. Little Beast is almost Disney-esque and I Should Have Looked Away has a real stagey feel to it. Title track La Vita Nouva and Let Me Forget are all beautifully written stories of relationships in various states of evolution or disrepair. And, However Worn is like a slice of American gothic.

A homage to new life, the completion of La Vita Nuova saw Maria’s life entirely change and illustrates an important period in the artist’s life. “It’s a really personal record; all I can do is tell my story. People can find their own meaning in it, taking them deeper, perhaps, into something they need to experience, I think that’s what music and art does.

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