Mara Measor‘s eponymous debut album is a late summer treat, a collection of songs colored by a diverse palette that span roots in folk, jazz and alt-rock, with a splash of arty chamber pop thrown in. Her stylistic range merges into a studied sound that’s both memorable and intellectually satisfying. (Kudos to album producer Jamie Lawrence for his light touch and diverse approach to framing Measor’s music.)
Her bio compares her to a mashup of Jason Mraz and Regina Spektor, but Measor’s artistic scope also reminds me of a Jane Siberry, an idiosyncratic Canadian singer-songwriter who’s less known because she’s marched to a different drum all her career. Measor’s music has a broad appeal so I hope that she won’t have to work the margins of the mainstream and can break through to a wider audience.
“Mara” deserves to be heard. It opens with insistent acoustic strumming that punctuates the desperation of “Desperate for You,” and the track introduces Measor’s supple, sultry voice, which can soar from a whisper to a full-throated roar, matched by an arrangement that builds when it needs to and then returns to a plaintive piano and Measor’s solo strumming to let the listener back down.
The tracks that follow showcase her sensibility with mostly downbeat ballads and mellow swing and her wordsmithing — the only cover on the album is Coldplay’s “The Scientist.”