On August 24th, Maya Jane Coles released her second artist album, excluding her Nocturnal Sunshine project, entitled 'Take Flight'. The 24-track album spans from house, deep house, trip-hop, and everything in between. Her first album was called 'Comfort', and I'm curious if the name Take Flight was in some way a continuation. Maybe, but I could also be overthinking that. Neither would surprise me. This album is massive. You could call it a double album really. What I love about the sheer amount of tracks in this is that in an age where people really don't give a shit about artists putting out albums, MJC basically said fuck off. Well maybe not, I've heard she's incredibly nice. But, point being, an album of this size is an anomaly. On top of that, many electronic albums these days don't have many tracks on them. For example, Bicep's new album was 12, which was also a great album if you've not checked it. But, enough of that. Let's get to the album.
Earlier this year, MJC teased us with the 'Won't Let You Down' EP featuring 2 tracks from the album, as well as a bonus track 'Round In Circles', and 3 accompanying remixes. Then, Just about a month ago, she gave us another taste with the 'Weak/Werk' EP. Both releases were extremely promising. Little did we know the magnitude of what was to come. I would like to make something clear: I am not an MJC fanboy. I absolutely appreciate her work and all that she does, but I've never really made it a point to listen to her music. That being said, I fucking love this album. It's incredibly inspiring as an artist myself, which leads me to how I'm going to structure this review. First, I'll review it from a journalistic point of view, and then I'll do it from an artist/producer's point of view, as I think both could be of value. With Take Flight being 24 tracks long, let's split it in half, as there's definitely a shift in tone from the first half to the second.
The first half is perfect Sunday morning/post-rave music. It's deep, sensual, and very atmospheric. Weak, the opening track of the album, sets this tone straight away. If It rides a fine line of deep house and breaks, lying someone right in the middle. Maya's voice lays gently on top, while the topline dances in and around it. With Bo & Wing, things get really deep and have a very playa-tech vibe. The next three, Old Jam, title track Take Flight, and Darkside feat. Chelou, are class trip-hop, with Chelou providing reverbed out soothing vocals. Lucky Charm brings back that deep house/broken beat vibe. MJC returns to the vocal booth for Blackout, and I have to say, she really has a killer voice. There is a soft and vulnerable tone to it that really digs deep into you. Would love to have her vocals on a track (Maya call me!). Her brand of trip-hop is second to none, and that shows with Unholy, A Misty Morning feat. Wendy Rae Fowler and Let You Go. Speaking of shining, her selection of vocalists also does, as A Chemical Affair feat. Wendy Rae Fowler, and Keep Me Warm feat. Gaps, the latter which has a pretty killer bassline.
As I said, there is a definite shift in tone and energy from the first and second half of the album. Where deep and melancholic were prevalent on tracks 1-12, tracks 13-23 pick up the pace, and are what I'd say are classic MJC. Won't Let You Down kicks things off, with MJC giving those quick little vocal bits. The energy continues through On My Way, Go On And Make It Through, and Cherry Bomb. Maya then mixes things up with a bit more laidback breaks for Chasing Sunshine, for which she again sings on. Things get a bit deeper for Golden Days, Werk, Passing Me By, Trails, and Pulse. Stay has a bit of a tougher and more staccato beat. Rounding out the last half of the album is Starlight, which takes things back to where we started in the first part of Take Flight. It's a deeper and almost sad feeling trip-hop tune, which is very fitting considering there are no more tracks after it. Sad face indeed.
So what are my favorite tracks from the album? In the first half, I have to go with A Chemical Affair, Misty Morning and Keep Me Warm. Wendy Rae Fowler has such a beautiful voice, very angelic, and Gaps brings that soul that has a slight hint of Sade in it. For part 2, definitely, Go On And Make It Through and Werk. The melody in Go On is fabulous. Yes, I said fabulous. What really strikes me about the album, is the attention to detail. I mentioned classic MJC earlier, and what I meant by that was that she has this ability to make such simple tunes that are so effective. Nothing is overdone, and there is a level of restraint that few can match. Each sound and sample is perfectly placed, nothing ever clashes, and there is so much space for the music to breathe. This is absolutely no easy task and comes with years of practice. If I were to teach a music production course, I would definitely have a lesson or two on Maya Jane Coles. Not to mention that she writes, produces, engineers and performs almost every element in each track, and even designs the artwork. Take Flight is definitely in contention for album of the year for me. Below are the full album stream and track list. What is your favorite track?
02. Bo & Wing
03. Old Jam
04. Take Flight
05. Darkside feat. Chelou
06. Lucky Charm
09. A Chemical Affair feat. Wendy Rae Fowler
10. Misty Morning feat. Wendy Rae Fowler
11. Keep Me Warm feat. GAPS
12. Let You Go
13. Won’t Let You Down
14. On My Way
15. Go On And Make It Through
16. Cherry Bomb
17. Chasing Sunshine
18. Golden Days
20. Passing Me By
Take Flight is out now on all platforms.