On her Web site Maria compares herself to the Norse warrior maiden Freya, whom she calls: "a force of nature, a goddess of love, fertility and sexual desire who led the Valkyries into battle, a fearless fighter who, paradoxically, has a passion for romantic music and flowers." When you listen to Maria's debut albums Fortress Round my Heart, these dichotomies begin to make sense. From bouncy, hand clapping, punk-esque beats to the soulful and sad, these 10 tracks are perfect for a road trip, a house party or an all-night study session.
Maria's biggest hit single so far, "I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked", is a response to what she sees as the objectification of women's bodies in the world of music and pop culture. While the message comes through loud (I mean, really loud) it is so coated in sugar gloss that it's quite possible to lose the point she's making. Don't be completely fooled though, there's something serious being said about naked men (it's possible) underneath all those cotton candy beats.
Maria says she writes her songs to speak directly to women, saying she feels like there's enough music out there about men, for men, to men, on men…. As Maria lays it out, it's about time an album hit the shelves that addresses the pressures women feel to look good all the time and to endure the attention and judgment of the world. You can decide for yourself if her response, to turn the table and ask for a gender-fied balance of judgement and objectification, is a useful tactic.
Useful or not, it sure is fun to listen to.
In citing a lack of female voices in the music industry, Maria makes her mission clear: "I've been a girl all of my life and I've been looking for music that is made for girls, performed by girls and that talks about girl issues. It's just not enough of it out there." (Keep in mind the English is not her first language).
So, to all of us who have been girls "our whole life" here's to musical conversations and those we love better when they're naked.