Band of the Day

2012.07.15

Cheyenne Marie Mize

A singer-songwriter explores bluesy passion, soul and dark country on an eclectic new EP
I tried to be forgiving, I tried just to make a living. Yes I tried to find the time to make my mind up.
lyrics from Going Under

Cheyenne Marie Mize is an indie folk singer-songwriter from Louisville, Kentucky. After studying music at the University of Louisville, Mize eventually went on to become a music therapist. In 2009 she collaborated with Bonnie Prince Billy on, Among The Gold, a 10” release, which was a take on late 19th century American parlor music. Mize’s debut album, Before Lately, was released in 2010 on sonaBLAST! Records. She also supported Ben Sollee and Daniel Martin Moore on their Dear Companion tour in that same year. Mize performed at Austin’s South by Southwest in 2011 where she was chosen as one of NPR’s 10 “Discoveries at SXSW 2011”. She subsequently released the EP, We Don’t Need, in November of 2011. Mize’s indie folk rock can be compared to the likes of Cat Power, PJ Harvey, and Bon Iver.

If the mark of a great artist is a willingness to push their art forward and grow, then Cheyenne Marie Mize is on her way. The Louisville, KY songwriter first made her mark with the 2010 LP Before Lately. It's an album that revels in open spaces and the quiet power of beautiful melancholy. The 10 tracks play like the feeling of being almost asleep, but not quite, in the time around dawn. It ambles between dreamy lullabies, subtly countrified ballads with plenty of wide spaces and twangy guitars, and quiet, melodically rich ditties. Beautiful stuff throughout, if a little morose when listened to all at once.

Two years on in 2012 Marie Mize has released her follow up with the EP We Don't Need. If Before Lately dealt in sighs and soft voices, We Don't Need is Marie Mize's outside voice. There's a lot more focus on rhythm (which she hinted at in excellent cuts like “Kind” on the debut) and emphasizes electric instruments and percussion to a greater degree. “Wishing Well” rides a riotous lo-fi stomp like early country blues as Marie Mize soulfully belts “can I put a penny in the wishing well?” With nothing but simple percussion and Marie Mize's vocals, it's a pretty massive left-turn that's skilfully executed. “Going Under” is an energetic Ray Charles style piano number complete with handclaps. Once again, not at all expected, and pretty awesome. “Keep It” sees her exploring darker spaces with powerful percussion dueling crunchy electric guitar on a moonless night's march. As elsewhere on the EP, she keeps up her big, confident vocals.

We Don't Need isn't a cohesive statement, and you can argue she hasn't found her “voice.” But for great musicians that's not something you find, it's something to continually reinvent, which is just what Cheyenne Marie Mize has done.