With its catchy choruses and young-girl-grows-up affect, Maggie McClure's previous release, 2007's self-titled full-length, drew easy comparisons to Michelle Branch and Vanessa Carlton.
The 23-year-old Norman singer/songwriter's latest, the "Good Morning and Good Night" EP, is comparably poppy, but an undeniably more contemporary affair. It's more detailed, studied and less fun' but that's not necessarily a bad thing.
From the beginning of the title track and album-opener, the most apparent change is her voice. She's breathier, sweeter and quieter. Her heart might be broken, too.
A standard song about last-ditch efforts to save a withering relationship, "Everything We Don't Say" is simple, but relatable. It's a familiar pain, but reliable material, and McClure pulls it off easily. "Why does everything have to change / I guess time mixed with silence changes everything," she sings. "We were young and we were brave / We were foolish to believe that our love could be sustained."
Getting the runaround, McClure's "Are You Here to Stay" tries to grab a guy that's "like a feather falling slowly." The chorus has a definite Maroon 5 meter: innocuous, but not too interesting.
McClure is bolstered by backup vocals on "You Just Can't Stop," a track that has reveals hints of Carly Simon and a slight country-gospel vibe.
"Good Morning" says good night with "Girl You Want to Be," a somewhat darker, rumbling number with soft pianos and guitars, and a rolling, atmospheric build that shows off her gentler voice.
The six-song disc was recorded in Nashville, Tenn., with a host of studio musicians. It's a good listen, but it's more of a transition. Experiences and exploration suit McClure's songs and style, so let's hope she has no idea where she's headed, and that she's surrounded by people who let her find her own way.
McClure will debut the album 7 p.m. Saturday with a CD-release show at the Hidden Castle, 1309 24th Ave. S.W. in Norman. Tickets are $10. For more information, visit www.maggiemcclure.com. "Joe Wertz