Cheyenne Marie Mize
We Don't Need
Release Date: January 24, 2012
Record Label: Yep Rock
When Cheyenne Marie Mize appeared at the Zanzabar last summer, I was surprised to see her take to the drums right off the bat. Mize had made her first imprint with the elegant Among the Gold, an EP of Civil War era folk songs sung with Bonnie 'Prince' Billy. While her last LP Before Lately followed the introspective tone of many singer-songwriters, Mize's latest EP, We Don't Need, is far less hermetic and subdued.
Appropriately, Mize returns to the drums as she did at Zanzabar with opener "Wishing Well" -- an infectious and spare bit of songwriting where rhythms coalesce under Mize's soulful vocals. Skillfully merging that ellipse where the Venn diagram between soul, folk, and blues meet, "Wishing Well" heralds Mize's new sound -- expansive, robust, moving from self to the world through song. The difference is mostly clearly heard in "Going Under" a blue-eyed soul track with a rambunctious piano line and clap track. As in Among the Gold, Mize shows off her ability of adaptation. On We Don't Need she takes this ability to the next level transfiguring her persona from a shy nostalgic into a throaty chanteuse.
Even the most quiet moments on the album as on "Call Me Beautiful" bristle. The slow tolling of bells rolls in as uneasy instrumentation underscores this act of self-declamation. As the off-kilter rhythm rolls forward, Mize's voice reemerges from static as melody and harmony work against one another. It's a brutal, slow-burner. "Keep It" and "It Lingers" are more straight-ahead rock tracks. The prior rolls around a fuzzy rhythm lick while a keyboard keeps time until the drums bash in. While "It Lingers" rollicks around in its laid back wa, Mize's voice takes on new qualities, drawling out from the back with a visceral disdain. When she demands "Let it go / Oh, let it go," you can tell that no matter what you do, she never will.
No matter how far ranging this EP moves, it's consistently grounded. Mize is clearly experimenting here. The record begins with the subtle simplicity of "Wishing Well" and by the time we've moved the hazy instrumental track "Back Around," you seem to have a clearer picture of Mize -- moving effortlessly and breathlessly from style to style, she emerges as the headmistress of adaptation making every form and style her own.