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Maia Sharp proves more than just a songwriter

Club Passim, Cambridge, Mass., July 8, 2009

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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Enjoying success as a songwriter is by no means any gauge of success as a recording artist. Maia Sharp's biggest accomplishment was having the Dixie Chicks record A Home, a song she wrote with her father Randy Sharp, which became the title track of their disc. She also penned three songs for Bonnie Raitt's 2005 release "Silver Lining."

Sharp is not a Johnny come lately to the idea of establishing her own recording career as she started doing this in 1998 with the late Ark 21 Records and a new one, "Echoes."

Performing as a duo, Sharp combined a strong voice, playing acoustic guitar and keyboards with a lot of good songs for an evening of enjoyable music. With "Echoes" just out, Sharp played more than half of the dozen songs from there with her current single, the forceful John Q> Lonely and Polite Society among the standouts.

Sharp also performed a few of her songs done by others, including A Home. While Sharp and Taylor turned in a worthy version, Sharp was no match for the vocals of Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks.

The songs tended to be more of the mid-tempo variety, way edgier than folk, somewhat rootsy, but not particularly rocking either. Sharp displayed a sense of humor as well - in introducing You Can't Lose Them All, a song she wrote with Kim Richey and Paul Thorn, Sharp opined, "I had to write a hopeful song." The song proved more forceful musically with steely lead guitar. She also made fun of her own songwriting, saying how a lot of the downer songs managed to end on a musically uplifting note to wipe away the sadness.

Sharp was aided time and again by guitarist Linda Taylor, who played a lot of electric along with acoustic. She often filled the gaps with a few short guitar lines with the steely playing often the best. Taylor's licks added an atmospheric tone, and her backing vocals also made for a stronger show.

Sharp demonstrated that she was way more than just another songwriter.

Lindsay Mae made the most of her area debut coming in with no name recognition. But a sharp 30- minute set can change that. For a performer so young - she's a year out of high school - Lindsay Mae performed with confidence, aided by a strong vocal delivery. While the songs tended to sound a bit similar stylistically, they were also of high quality.

She received a very strong hand from the crowd, much to her surprise. Next time, she'll have to make like she's been there before, at least based on this winning first effort in the Boston area.