Review Summary: Make it seem like it was yesterday, but we've come a long way.
Mae singer/ guitarist, Dave Elkins’ pre-Mae project, Sky’s The Limit played a series of local shows and recorded an album between 1998 to 2001. Nearly ten years after the initial recording, the band’s debut album is widely available. Sky’s The Limit shares many similarities with Mae’s Destination: Beautiful as Dave wrote for both projects simultaneously. Sky’s The Limit is filled with layered guitars, deceptively simple melodies, and even shares the song, Skyline Drive with Mae’s debut release.
Dave’s pre-Mae band differs in that, due to the fact that it was recorded on a small budget, there is much less production, giving the album a much rawer sound. In addition, Where Destination: Beautiful was characterized by its cleanly layered guitars; Sky’s The Limit’s sound is much denser and more heavily distorted. Overall, the sound creates much more tangible energy than what is found on Mae’s debut. The album is also very instrumentally focused, not only more so than Mae, but more than just about any band in the genre. Five of the album's eleven tracks clock in at over five minutes. Sky’s The Limit is filled to the brim with extended instrumental sections and even includes an entirely instrumental track, 12.31.99 (Us vs Them). In Dave Elkins’ future releases with Mae the vocals take much more of the spotlight and are actually of much higher quality than the vocals on Sky’s The Limit. However, the guitar on this album is arguably the best thing about the album and is absolutely terrific, even when compared to some of Mae’s best work.
Some of the best guitar on the album comes from A Song For Kate. The song starts with a restrained guitar riff and softly sung vocals before exploding into a much heavier chorus. This song is the best example on the album of the clean, transparent sound on Mae’s debut mixed with heavier distorted guitars that are much more prevalent on this album. Nostalgia is another highlight of the album, beginning with more than a minute of just guitar and drums before the vocals even come in. The song displays a great laid back feel, despite having a livelier chorus, before shifting gears for a completely different second half, making it the most dynamic song on the album.
Sky’s The Limit shows a great deal of Dave’s potential that he explored in Mae. The album is different enough from Mae’s debut to be a great stand alone album and contains more of Mae’s signature brand of honestly simple yet emotionally moving lyrics. Sky’s The Limit is a great listen and is perfect for anybody who wishes Mae would’ve stuck around a little bit longer.