Posts Tagged ‘La Vita Nuova’

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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.

Maria McKee / La Vita Nuova

Maria McKee returns early next year with a new album La Vita Nuova. Mckee is remembered for her role in American country-rock band Lone Justice and for issuing some amazing solo records, including 1993’s You Gotta Sin To Be Saved (which includes the exquisite ‘I’m Gonna Soothe You’) and Life Is Sweet ( from 1996). Of course, she best known for UK number one single ‘Show Me Heaven’ which was featured in the Tony Scott film Days of Thunder.

Mckee’s last studio long-player, Late December, was released way back in 2007 and in the intervening years, Maria was working alongside her husband in independent film – casting, producing, scoring and acting in them.

However change was afoot. She is no longer with her husband and has recently come out as gay. She said: “Much of queer liberation is finding a way to live beyond hetero ruminative models we’re conditioned to live with. This album is, in a way, an exorcism, a sort of purging of those ideas and expectations”

Expanding on her feelings on what is “a really personal record”, Mckee said:

“I guess I was at that mid-point in life, looking at death, like a ‘Death In Venice’ moment where you have that vision of youth and beauty and it possesses you and you start to grieve for the loss of all the things that youth and beauty allow you to experience; I was grieving at not having had a child and also witnessing young lovers in a relationship that became a friendship and not knowing how to take a step beyond that.”

La Vita Nuova isn’t out until 13th March next year but you can secure a special limited  ‘indies-only’ double white vinyl edition