When it comes to music, sexuality and freedom, we’re all human beings who deserve to find community and love; this is the golden kernel around which George Maple has spun the elements of her debut album.
On Lover, the sought-after musician (she’s worked with Flume, Flight Facilities, Snakehips and many others) explores silken, compelling beat- and synth-led ideas as well as the limits of her warm, elastic vocals. Amongst the album’s threads are several spoken interludes which bind Maple’s narrative together, giving this meaningful pop record true depth and weight.
“It was its own little exploration and creative adventure,” the musician says of these narrative slices. “I spoke to people… I’d gather information and find YouTube things and interview strippers and… I’d test them out, how they felt between certain tracks, [to see] whether they articulated what I was trying to convey in that particular segment of the record.”
One of the speakers is Maple’s French housemate Sophie Debaere, who pops up in Harmonie du soir (translation: Evening Harmony) and the interlude I Like To Play With Him. “The poem she is recounting is by Charles Baudelaire, and then I interviewed her about her first sexual experience,” explains Maple. “When I was gathering all the interludes, I was also on a bit of a journey, intellectually.” Maple mentions Alain De Botton and Alan Watts as writers she looked to in understanding her own “obsession with intimacy”, and discovering new ways to think about its themes. “I really wanted to – and maybe I will do this one day – do a documentary-style portion to the record where I go and interview a lot of people about their experiences,” she says.
The tracks on Lover articulate these varying encounters with detailed alacrity. Pain is incredibly sensual with elegant piano glissandos and jazz chords and aerial, breathy vocals which ascend into almost inhumanly high harmonies, like cherubs in chorus. Will You‘s electronic break-beat is paired with slow, ethereal strings. Maple often layers her vocals with a full octave in between, but also plays with the tone of her voice – she belts like En Vogue (Like You Used To, whose unexpected swerves into bright chords don’t strip the stand-out of any mystery), but sometimes she’s super close to the microphone.
“I love [vocal layers]; I love that effect, and I love what it means, and I love the richness of it,” she says. “But there’s this real vulnerability when it comes to a single vocal that I have always been quite afraid of. I think I started to edge into it with this record, and I think I’m going to take it even further with the sort of music that I’m working on at the moment. I’m such a nerd. I love that process so very much.”
Lover is out October 27 via EMI.