Ariana Gillis, "The Maze" (Ariana Gillis)
Ariana Gillis doesn't linger on the lyrics when she starts to sing on "The Maze," her staccato alto suggesting a young artist in a hurry to share her considerable skills.
Perhaps "The Maze" will be the breakout Gillis deserves. Independently released, the 11-song set showcases her bold, bracing vocals and excellent songwriting.
Miller co-produced, leaving only light fingerprints on music that includes banjo and pedal steel but also squawky sax. Gillis rocks a bit and has a lovely way with a ballad. Call it Canadian Americana.
The maze is life, and Gillis sings about loss and loneliness and liberation, all with a female touch. She follows a breakup song with a makeup song about actual makeup ("White Blush"). Three tunes reference her hair. Gillis shows a knack for storytelling on the sad but superb tale of tragedy "Jeremy Woodstock," saving a key revelation for the third verse and leaving the worst to the imagination.
The closing "Dream Street" is an admission of ambition. "I'm going to Dream Street, be a star. Somehow I'll get there," Gillis sings. "The Maze" may be the ticket.