I've been telling you here for awhile now that Daisy May is a contribution to the national music scene---even though she's a small-venue local singer at this point. She has a sweet, strong voice, hard-scrabble insights, brave generosity, and a smooth twang sound. Well, I just found this YouTube video of the name-song of this CD, so you don't have to take my word for it. Before you watch it, pretend you've been shellshocked by minimall-ism for a few months straight, like I was when I first heard her, then check it out. (I don't want to go overboard, but the video takes a step up at the halfway point that you might really like):
That's the first song I saw her sing in a little venue in the middle of this wasted town. Now you know why I'm a fan.
News Item! Daisy May was live on Prairie Home Companion! Saturday, April 21, 2007, was PHC's first "People in Their Twenties Talent Show." Daisy was the best but got second-place. Fun show!
Daisy May is a Michigander and one of the most inspiring singers out there today. She's also part of an upstart new upnorth indy music label, EarthWork Music.
A "tough" reviewer (below) just said: "This music is Van Morrison or Joni Mitchell good: excellent songs, smart, poetic lyrics, solid arrangements, and that wonderful voice. It's such a joy to discover such a major talent like this." ...So it's not just me.
I'm offering one of her CDs, "Heart Songs," here to see what happens. It's one of our favorite records around the house.
Of course, I should just say she's outright inspiring to me and Martha. (A lot of our friends would say Me, too!) I also know that her songs gave me uplift when I was needing it. Whenever they come on they do work some actual brightening magic.
Probably this name list is lame, but anyway: Daisy May holds her own with Norah and Joanna Newsome and Sarah Harmer...Niko Case, Kelly Hogan. She adds to them, has a serious contribution to make. Is no wannabe. Daisy May sings strong, writes good songs, and keeps a fiesty twang while offering hopeful insight just through her, well, style. She's on the road a lot, and has lived the road, hitching and rail-hopping, but it seems to help her appreciate life and people more. It's a hopeful twang. There's plenty of bittersweet but no angry, blaming blues. Also, the thing is that it's rarely overt uplift. She's not preaching. It's sweet but not sticky. This CD captures someone making a contribution to BEING.
Here's a link to CD-Baby for online versions of all the songs on this CD:
...And they're all good!
I've put up other blurbs about her concerts that we've attended. She's part of EarthWorkMusic.com, a growing Michigan roots music scene and I'd like to put several other CDs up here, too, but I'll start with this one. She has several newer CDs, but what the hey. Old has always been as good as new, for me. If people like me offering cutting edge, accessible, encouraging DIY music here, I'll add more.
So is this all old news to you? I do think the word is getting out. There's Michigan pride about her and her friends---with her partner Seth Bernard figuring prominently. They're both stand-outs. They're a great duo. She's the dirt road and he's the cosmic comic. His work stands strong in its own right. They and their co-op record label host several fast-growing events up at their farm south of Cadillac, where they grew up.
A Complete Review of the Song "Heart Song"
Review by Tom Hendricks of the "Musea" Website & Zeen
[Tom is a longtime music reviewer, musician and zeenster from Dallas, TX. He prides himself on tough, compact, professional reviewing.]
Jeff, I really like Daisy. I think she is a major talent.
I hope you'll let her know about this review.
And I wish her all the very best. - Tom
Review #69 4/07
Title: Heart Song (CD)
What is it? : 4 songs by Daisy May (May Erlewine) from the online cd
"Heart Song" that include Simple Secrets of My Heart/ Dust/ Heart Song/ Sun.
Technical Quality: The technical quality of the recording is average
and straightforward as if it was done mostly live in the studio.
The instrumentation arrangements, and voice, are well above average
and nicely fit each song.
Innovative Quality: Above average. Daisy May's innovation is
in the high quality of the songs, lyrics, and the musical arrangements ,
which blend all the instruments and voices together so nicely.
When I first heard these 4 songs, I thought they sounded pleasant enough, and maybe a little repetitive. But when they were done,
I wanted to hear them again.
From then on they just kept getting better with each play. Their
subtle charms worked on me till now I flat out love them ---
each one. And I recommend them to you.
The instrumentation is simple, a standard guitar with base and
a slide guitar, mandolin, banjo and/or background vocals (by Seth
Bernard on songs 2, 3, and 4 and Daisy (?) on song 1).
Daisy's voice is dry with a light warble. She sings mostly love
songs with bitter sweet lyrics, but her voice is somehow almost
magically uplifting, joyous, and hypnotically happy.
She often takes a musical passage and repeat s it with
subtle embellishments each time, until she builds to a big
melodic chorus. The voice is straightforward but alluring,
and dramatic. Also note her occassional country accent.
1. Simple Secrets of My Heart. The song starts out as an
on-the-road song and turns into an achingly beautiful
love song. Note the cello towards the end.
2. Dust. This uptempo song starts out with a stand up base.
Note the banjo.
3. Heart Song. This country style song, featuring a slide
guitar, is about two lovers, "... a songbird singer,
a girl singer with a twinkle in her eyes," and "a word twister, a mind bender, a writer in the sky."
4. Sun. This Nora Jones or Joanna Newsome type slow song
is addressed to the sun.
This music is Van Morrison or Joni Mitchell good:
excellent songs, smart, poetic lyrics, solid arrangements,
and that wonderful voice. It's such a joy to discover such a
major talent like this. Highly recommended. You'll
be hearing a lot more about this singer songwriter.
I guarantee that!
Overall Grade: 7.3
[I note that for music that Tom really likes he often gives 6.1-6.5 grades. I haven't seen a rating this high before.]
Grading system: 9-10 Highest grade - Life's work of
a master (ex. Collected plays of Shakespeare, collected
symphonies of Beethoven) 8-9 Single best work of a
celebrated master's career. 7-8. Best work of an era or
genre or decade. 6-7 Best work of the year. 5-6 Very
good. 4-5 More good than bad. 3-4 Average amount
of good = amount of bad. 2-3 Mostly bad with some
redeeming parts. 1-2 Nothing redeemable. 0-1 So bad
it is offensively bad and outrages the reviewere for
taking up that time in his life - just awful.
Musea guarantees a review for all art work in any
conceivable field IF you follow the rules posted on
alt.zines or see our website or e-mail me.
Tom Hendricks firstname.lastname@example.org
[$15] "GCB" by Richard Dobson is a hard-to-find memoir of wild days in the 1970's in Texas, touring in bands with greats like Townes van Zandt, working oil rigs and shrimp boats, and songwriting in Nashville…
Here are a couple pics of the Circle JF Saddle Shop…
- Williamston, MI, posted on May 22, 2009
Here's an email I got from Mike Balduf:
Many thanks for the tip on Daisy May Erlewine (though she has dropped the Daisy and now goes by just May Erlewine). On your recommendation, I caught her show at the Ark in Ann Arbor this past weekend, and it was fabulous. You compared her to Norah Jones. Well, I've got to say that I like her a whole lot more than Norah.
May Erlewine's voice reminds me a bit of Norah, and, at other times, of Nancy Griffith, Dolly Parton, and even Stevie Nicks. She blends well with her partner Seth Bernard who has the good sense to play back-up harmony when May is doing one of her tunes (though Seth is a talented musician himself). They were backed by a great band featuring other musicians from their Earthwork Music Collective. Peter Madcat Ruth joined them for a couple of numbers.
After the show, I purchased May's new CD, Lovelabor, and I'm playing it to death. Seth and May have a new duo CD, Welcome Back, but it was sold out. It's interesting that they both cut solo CDs while also performing as a duo act.
Seth and Daisy may opened up the whole world of independent, Michigan-based music for me. Their CDs are excellent technically and musically. May is a first-rate song writer -- so many of her melodies are memorable and moving. It brings up the question I've often asked: what is the difference between an act that hits the big-time on the national stage and those that stay local? I guess there are hundreds of Daisy Mays out there vying for a few recording deals, and maybe they're happy here at home, doing what they love. After all, the Ark was sold out.