"It's not a concept album," Maia Sharp says of The Dash Between the Dates, her sixth solo album and her eOne debut, "but I was trying to look at things with a wider-angle lens and bring more breadth to the songs without sacrificing the intimacy. Maybe that's the concept."
In a career that spans two decades, the California native has established a reputation as a songwriter's songwriter, possessing a seamless sense of craft as well as an uncanny knack for cutting straight to the heart of complex emotional issues. In the process, she's won a passionate grass-roots fan base, while seeing her compositions covered by artists from across the musical spectrum.
Among the artists who've recorded Sharp's compositions are Bonnie Raitt (who also guested on Maia's last album, Change the Ending), Cher, the Dixie Chicks, Crystal Bowersox, Keb' Mo', Lisa Loeb, Trisha Yearwood, Jessie Baylin, Paul Carrack, Terri Clark, Kathy Mattea, Edwin McCain, Lizz Wright, Kim Richey, Joey Ryan, Mindy Smith and David Wilcox. She's also spread her wings as a producer, overseeing recordings by Bowersox, McCain and Art Garfunkel.
But it's on her own recordings that Maia Sharp's vivid lyrical insight, infectious melodic sensibility and soulful vocal grit truly shine. That's certainly the case on The Dash Between the Dates, on which such effortlessly eloquent originals as "Nothing But the Radio," "Phoenix," "You're Alive" and the stirring title track offer pointed meditations on life, love, sex and mortality that are steeped in hard-won personal experience. The album also features "I Don't Want Anything to Change," which is already familiar to fans through longtime admirer Bonnie Raitt's popular version.
Sharp co-produced the album with multi-instrumentalist and longtime collaborator Linda Taylor. In addition to Sharp's vocals, guitar, keyboards and saxophone, and Taylor's guitars, bass, keys and programming, The Dash Between the Dates features notable contributions from Eurythmics co-founder Dave Stewart, who co-wrote and plays guitar on "Maybe Tonight"; acclaimed solo artist Lizz Wright, whose distinctive tones enrich "You Know Where I'll Be" and "I Don't Want Anything to Change"; singer-songwriter Gabe Dixon, who sings on "Underneath"; legendary vocalist Arnold McCuller, who adds his voice to "Nothing But the Radio," "Phoenix" and "Real Love."
Catie Curtis has become something more than a songwriting star. Her career spans 14 albums, songs featured on TV shows Dawson’s Creek, Chicago Hope, and Felicity; and movies like Finding Graceland and A Slipping Down Life. For over 20 years, she’s been a perennially popular headliner, appearing at performing arts centers, concert halls, folk clubs, music festivals, Lilith Fair, Carnegie Hall, and the White House.
Mary Chapin Carpenter says, “Every time a new Catie Curtis record comes out, it’s an event for me. She’s one of those special songwriters with a knack for finding the details we all recognize. That may seem unadorned, but it’s actually very spiritual. And that’s her gift.”
What do you call a career like that? It seems premature for statue-monikers like legend and icon, and institution is too cold a word for such a warm-hearted songwriter, known for her uncompromising but kind-eyed lyrics. The Boston Globe said, “Any fool can write a love-gone-wrong song; it takes a genius to write a love-gone-right song. No urban songwriter does that better than Catie Curtis.” Rolling Stone wrote, “With her deceptively gentle voice, she can turn on a dime and thrill the listener with unforeseen power and emotion. Intricate acoustic picking sometimes recalling Joan Armatrading…but Curtis is very much an original.”
A career others see as a marvel of consistency, Curtis sees as a hopscotch of serendipity, small-town roots, and the search for honest stories. She grew up in Saco, Maine, never knowing how to express the music she felt inside her. She saw musicals at the Ogunquit Playhouse, played trombone and drums in the school band. But perhaps the kindness that infuses her music had its origins in the gift that made her a songwriter. At 15, she was at a yard sale, staring hungrily at a guitar she could not afford. The woman who owned it asked if she’d promise to learn to play it, then gave it to her.
“I was looking for a way to express myself and the trombone wasn’t doing it,” Curtis says. “I started listening to songwriters like Joni Mitchell and Jackson Browne. When I was at Brown University, I saw Suzanne Vega and thought, ‘This is it; this is what I want to do.’ It was her whole less-is-more presentation. Her storytelling was captivating, both in the songs and in between. I’d always felt overwhelmed by hard rock and heavy metal; all this noise and I didn’t feel anything. With Suzanne, it was like, wow, there’s so little going on and I feel filled up.”
7pm doors | 8pm show | $25 adv. | $30 day of