I’m not about to wear that dress if it’s not cut to impress, Maggie Rose sings with striking confidence on the revved-up “Mostly Bad,” the second track on her wildly fun full length debut, due in stores March 26. Offering up a wonderful lesson in showmanship, Cut To Impress more than lives up to its name with a wholly-unique blend of bluesy, R&B flavored country that is as sexy as it is fierce.
Maggie Rose (aka Margaret Rose Durante) emerged in summer 2012 with the album’s retro cool lead single, “I Ain’t Your Mama.” Showing off a funky vocal strut and a classic look like a country soul Nancy Sinatra, Maggie asked audiences to try something new, and the result was a Top 25 single. Now Cut To Impress follows suit with a collection that dares to be different.
What Maggie understands, however, is that you don’t have to sacrifice strong hooks and pop-focused melodies in order to push the limit. The finely crafted, “I Know Better Now,” draws strength from rolling guitars and highway harmonies while reveling in the dramatic. On the breathless, “Fall Madly In Love With You,” a percussive verse bursts wide open at the chorus as she sings, All I want to do is skip all the rules. And by breaking the right rules and adhering to others, Maggie stakes out her own independence.
It’s clear Maggie knows how to entertain, and her ability to craft delicious melodies and irresistible hooks helps her get away with two of the darker songs included on a mainstream release in quite some time. Between haunting resonator guitar and gospel-tinged vocals on the eerie, “Preacher’s Daughter,” references to dragging the lake are only the beginning for a song that could supply the soundtrack for the TV series, True Blood. And on the minor key, “Looking Back Now,” Maggie’s tale of a woman who would not be the victim leaves an astounding body count in its wake. Yet, the shades of regret are heartbreaking and the songs are executed with such a powerful precision that you can’t help but be swept up in the music.
Maggie continually makes her words felt as she carries blues-infused melodies with the weight of each new line. The current single, “Better,” is an emotional outpouring all the more poignant for the character’s supposed apathy. Hey, it’s just one night, it’s not like it’s forever, goes the song’s complicated storyline. Yet make no mistake, Maggie’s characters most certainly do feel. The tender, “Put Yourself In My Blues,” a sad country waltz full of frayed electric distortion, pleas for others to Get a glimpse of the heartache I feel in here, with an outstretched melody.
There’s a sense of urgency to Cut To Impress, which runs fast and clocks in at just about 35 minutes. The rockabilly-influenced closer, “Goodbye Monday,” even waits impatiently for the weekend when it’s still only Monday night. However, the immediacy only adds to Maggie’s freewheeling independence, as it’s quickly understood she’s going to do whatever it is she pleases. And on Cut To Impress, she does just that with a fresh and exciting debut.
Key Tracks – “I Ain’t Your Mama,” “I Know Better Now,” “Looking Back Now,” “Better”