Mree
The Middle


4.0
excellent

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
January 12th, 2019 | 68 replies


Release Date: 2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: And behold, I heard an angel.

With three full-lengths under her belt, independent singer/songwriter Marie Hsiao is still anything but a household name. While she has managed to score modest success with digital marketing on YouTube and Amazon, her greatest achievement might have been catching the ear of Justin Vernon, who at one time helped to promote her music. But outside of that, it’s been a surprisingly quiet career for Hsiao, especially when you take into consideration that she has one of the most exquisite voices that you’ll ever hear. That could be about to change, as she has now wrapped up a brief tour with Novo Amor and is dropping her major label debut EP The Middle – which showcases those otherworldly vocals like perhaps no other release in her catalog.

Compared to her previous body of work, The Middle is by far the most ambient and atmospheric of the bunch. Earlier releases have gone more in-depth for folk (especially her debut Grow) and have been more ambitious from a songwriting perspective (Winterwell remains her benchmark), but this is the most beautiful she has ever sounded simply from an aesthetic standpoint. Marie’s vocals glide over a crystalline surface of echoing acoustics, often self-harmonizing to create mesmerizing atmospheres that wrap you up in the warmth of her delivery. There’s not a whole lot going on musically (again, there are better places in her discography to look for that), but if The Middle represents her first major pop offering, then it’s a damn good one. The title track sounds like it could have fit in effortlessly on Phoebe Bridgers’ Stranger In The Alps, if you’re looking for a barometer of what to expect.

It’s fitting that the EP closes out with an instrumental piece, ‘Like a River’, to represent the versatility that she can still bring to the table. Major-label newcomers likely won’t have the frame of reference to compare this extended play to more ambitious past offerings like Winterwell – which featured plenty of folk instrumentation and even some brass (‘Night Owls’) – so showing her creative chops on the closer helps to serve expectations moving forward. As it is, The Middle is just a downright beautiful, pristinely produced ambient pop EP that should easily help get Mree’s name out there. It’s an important cause in its own right, because a voice this angelic should not exist underground.




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Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Moderator
January 11th 2019


29220 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

The Middle:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjkzpSXUmfI



That's my favorite track but it wasn't available on Soundcloud so I had to embed the other one instead.



Also, I'm approaching 400 reviews already...sheesh. Maybe it's time to call it quits.

Digging: James Blake - Assume Form

Lord(e)Po)))ts
January 12th 2019


40410 Comments


I thought Empty Nest was alright back in the day (2015)

Digging: Envelope Generator - Songs I Hate

Dewinged
January 12th 2019


13748 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Ooooh this looks up my alley

Digging: Two People - First Body

SowingSeason
Moderator
January 12th 2019


29220 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

@Potsy: I had no idea who she was in 2015 but I caught up. That and Grow were decent and showcased her voice, but I prefer Winterwell all the way.

Mardorien
January 12th 2019


75 Comments


There is one word to describe this: aethereal. Her voice is incredible. I don't think I'll find myself coming back too much, but it's a nice one to relax with. Might check out her whole discog if I get a chance!

Lord(e)Po)))ts
January 12th 2019


40410 Comments


@sowing how does this hold up to the rest? Where would you place it?

SowingSeason
Moderator
January 12th 2019


29220 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Probably second best out of what I've heard. Winterwell is still my favorite.

Lord(e)Po)))ts
January 12th 2019


40410 Comments


well i dont think i have a single already released 2019 album on my radar yet so maybe ill give er a rip

Sinternet
January 12th 2019


18296 Comments


i forgot she existed tbh but winterwell was a jam

Digging: Illenium - Awake

Cormano
January 12th 2019


1350 Comments


so how do I pronounce that name

sweet review, listening rn

Lucman
January 12th 2019


1718 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Beautiful ep.

Digging: The Horrible Crowes - Elsie

BlushfulHippocrene
Contributing Reviewer
January 12th 2019


2716 Comments


It's interesting that she toured with Novo Amor -- I think he does it better than most, but that specific sound is one that is so weirdly popular right now. So, so many artists in the exact same vein, the number of YT and Spotify playlists collating the stuff is exhausting. Judging from this EP, though, Mree doesn't seem like she'd fit into that scene all that well, though given the Vernon cosign perhaps there's something there. That said, she has a pretty sizeable YouTube viewership, so I guess she's carved out her own audience regardless.

Digging: Pedro the Lion - Phoenix

Wildhoney
January 13th 2019


333 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is absolutely sublime. Great find and thanks for the review.

IAMERROR
January 13th 2019


323 Comments


I was born on the same day, same year as this gal so now I have to check out this album, lol!

DamnVanne
January 13th 2019


2881 Comments


holy good god damn what a gorgeous voice

JohnnyoftheWell
January 14th 2019


12569 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This makes me think of an airier version of Mazzy Star's third. Good stuff, beautiful vocals but I wonder how much I'll come back to it

Digging: Two People - First Body

JohnnyoftheWell
January 14th 2019


12569 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

+ nice review, cheers for spotlighting this Sowing (plz no retirement just yet)

Marehelm
January 14th 2019


771 Comments


mREEEEEE

SowingSeason
Moderator
January 14th 2019


29220 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Nice to see so much positive reception to this. Her voice really is lovely.

zaruyache
January 14th 2019


20233 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

will check

Digging: Turia - Dede Kondre



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