Kate Maki recorded Head In The Sand last year at home with her husband Frederick Squire his their studio/sound laboratory, drawing on songs written mostly in 2009, a period she describes as “tempestuous”. Performed on mostly old instruments and captured with vintage equipment, it’s as if the sentiments and stories behind these 11 songs were best left in the past, treated as relics and artifacts of another life and time. And yet, as she sings “I’m on the edge / I’m in between / I lost the crown / I’m nobody’s queen,” Maki is absolutely present, “awake in dream” as she later says in “Nobody’s Queen”, time travelling through her own personal history.
If Head In The Sand were a stage play, it would be a two-hander, an interaction between Maki and another; a lover, the memory of one, and at times herself. Even when the music percolates with the bubbliness of “Let It Run”, Maki’s words cut to the chase: “Stay away from that man / If you don’t want to lose it / He’s going to run away,” she warns, speaking from experience. Intertwining elements of cautionary tales with journal-entry honesty, Maki’s spare and haunting arrangements expertly compliment and contrast her words. The reverential organ that opens “Keep Right” sets the tone and mood, cutting through the funeral-like pall of a song like “Dark Water” with glimpses of sunlight, signalling better times to come.
Kate Maki may wrestle with love, relationships and the human condition, but the candid and eloquent music those battles inspire comes naturally to her. Head In The Sand bravely looks Maki’s tempestuous past in the eye, and sets course for a calmer future.