Maria Muldaur | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Music » Critic's Choice

Maria Muldaur

by

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

comment

MARIA MULDAUR

On her new album, Southland of the Heart (Telarc), Maria Muldaur turns up the heat on the swampy, sultry Americana she explored with 1996's Fanning the Flames--and you'll get no complaints from this corner. Muldaur remains a well-traveled musical vagabond and a wonderful tour guide. She traverses the territory from jazz to bluegrass, from southern gospel churches to Smoky Mountain shanties, and she seems as comfy on Tin Pan Alley as in a south-side Chicago blues club--her sinuous honey-vinegar voice is her open-ended ticket. That voice is one of the minor treasures of American popular music: anyone who stopped listening after her 70s hit "Midnight at the Oasis" has no idea of the range of textures Muldaur can achieve. She uses a convincing growl to offset sly sexuality, and balances reflective balladry with rawboned R & B. On the new album's title track, written by Bruce Cockburn, she sings, "When the sun comes up an enemy / And nothin' gives you shade," then, against a backdrop of sighing guitar and blowsy horns, wrings every ounce from the remaining lyrics, with throaty ardor here and a Dylan-esque twang there, to escape to the inner Eden the title depicts. On a drifty cruise called "Latersville," she makes indolence sound even more appealing than usual, and on a moody blues called "Think About You" and the traditional-style "Blues Gives a Lesson," she can get you twitching in places you might have forgotten about. Friday, 10 PM, Beale Street Blues Cafe, 1550 N. Rand, Palatine; 847-776-9850. Saturday, 9:30 PM, Buddy Guy's Legends, 754 S. Wabash; 312-427-0333. NEIL TESSER

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Caroline Greyshock.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  →