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White Turns Blue by Maria Mena

Cass' review of
White Turns Blue

Maria MenaWhite Turns Blue (2004)
Running time: 50 minutes
Artist: Maria Mena
Genre: Pop Rock
Label: Columbia Records
Artist site: http://www.mariamenamusic.com

Review Copyright Cassandra Henry, 2004

CASS' CLIP

I NEVER read an artist's bio or press information until AFTER I've listened to their CD because I don't want my initial opinion of their music to be influenced by what I've read. And, nine times out of 10, when I go back to read their bio, there's usually one sentence that accurately describes my listening experience. When it comes to Maria Mena's debut CD, White Turns Blue, that one sentence that describes my listening experience is, "Her songs come directly from her heart and her experiences, are written with candor, clarity and purpose, and are performed with a disarming guileless charm." [To read Maria's bio, go to http://www.mariamenamusic.com].

What I really like about White Turns Blue is that Maria's poetry-like lyrics really articulates her every emotion better than most of today's pop princesses. The best way I can describe White Turns Blue is that its Maria's musical diary filled with the what-ifs of life. You sense her self tug of war between disappointment and love. The funny thing is that I related to every single word because it somehow transported me back to a time when I was self-absorbed with being creatively different than everyone else, yet wanting those differences to be understood. So I fast-forwarded to today and asked myself, "What do I, a 40-something woman, have in common with, Maria Mena, a Norwegian 18-year-old singer/ songwriter/performer?" On the surface, nothing. But, after actually listening to her CD no less than a hundred times, and eventually lip-synching [like Ashlee Simpson] nearly every song, I found we had a lot in common. For example, her songs, "Just A Little Bit" and "Fragile" perfectly describe how I feel most days when I get up to face the day.

"Just A Little Bit"

Just a little bit stronger
Just a little bit wiser
Just a little less needy

And maybe I'd get there
. . .
Just a little bit pretty
Just a little more aware
Just a little bit thinner

[Maria Mena (c)]

@@@@@@@@@@@@@@

"Fragile"

I've been walking around all day thinking
I think I have a problem, I think I think too much
I've been taught to hold back my tears and avoid them
but you've made pain into something I could touch . . .
And I'm fragile
I am hopeless
I'm not perfect
But I am free. . .

[Maria Mena (c)]

I guess it's safe to say that some days my psyche is fragile especially when I dream of being just a little bit thinner and wiser.

Let me back track for a second. Honestly, I was very apprehensive about reviewing this CD because of the generational gap. So, when I heard the first track, "You're The Only One," I was like, "Damn, this is exactly why I should have passed on this review." Initially, what annoyed me with this track was how Maria sang this song like one long run-on sentence. "Well I saw you with your hands above your head/Spinning around, trying not to look down/But you did, and you fell, hard, on the ground/Then you stumbled around for a good ten minutes/And I said I'd never seen anyone look so dumb before/And you laughed and said I still know how to turn you on though." [Chorus: "You're the only one who/Drags me kicking and screaming through fast dreams/You're the only one who/Knows exactly what I mean." Please Exhale!!! But, what caught my attention was the giddiness in which Maria delivered this verse: "I hope you can forgive me for that time/When I put my hand between your legs/And said it was small/ 'Cause its really not at all/I guess there's just a part of me that likes to bring you down/Just to keep you around/'Cause the day you realize how amazing you are/You're gonna leave me." I couldn't stop laughing because I wished I had said, "When I put my hand between your legs/And said it was small" to those guys from my past with small egos.

However, this stanza: "Mom, please tell me what to do/I'm so disappointed in you/You said those words that made me cry/And you always wondered why/Why I sing my lullaby. . ." from "My Lullaby" really made me sit up and listen more intently. Maria said that she wrote "My Lullaby" at age 11 and it expressed her feelings regarding her parent's divorce.

The 12 tracks on White Turns Blue are relatable in some form or fashion, and Maria's voice and style is reminiscent of other female singers. [For those of my generation, she's an equal mix of Rickie Lee Jones and Joni Mitchell, and for the younger crowd, she's a little bit of Alanis Morisette, Jewel, Arvil Lavigne and Lisa Loeb.] Don't get me wrong though, when I make these comparisons because Maria is truly unique in her own special way.

The other song titles are "Blame It On Me"; "Take you with me"; "What's another day"; "Lose control"; "Shadow"; "Your glasses"; and "A few small bruises". But, the one ballad surely to strike a chord with listeners, [and I'm willing to bet will find its way onto a movie soundtrack someday [or perhaps an interlude on a MTV reality series like Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County] is "Sorry".

"I just poured my heart out
there's bits of it on the floor
And I take what's left of it and
rinse it under cold water
And call him up for more

And I say baby, yes I feel stupid to call you, but I'm lonely
And I don't think you meant it when you said you couldn't love me
And I thought maybe if I kissed the way you do, you'd feel it too
. . .
He grabs my wrist
as my fingers turn into angry fists
and I whisper why can't you love me,
I'll change for you
I'll play the part . . ."

[Maria Mena (c)]

Now, how can you not relate to those heartbreaking words?

Ohhhh, to be 18 again! Well, only if I had a CD that debuted in the No. #1 place on Billboard's Heatseeker's chart. Maria's CD, White Turns Blue really speaks from the soul and this listener has been eternally touched.

CASS' CONCLUSION

White Turns Blue superbly echoes every young girls [and even this woman's] insecurities of whether she fits into this big universe of other mixed up souls, the empowerment that comes with accepting heartache and finally, the strength to move forward.

White Turns Blue: green

Copyright Cassandra Henry, 2004
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