Maz Totterdell – Counting My Fingers from the album Sweep

Maz Totterdell’s remarkable debut Sweep depicts youthful talent at its most striking. Her sound, characterised by memorable melodies, folk musicianship and insightful poetic lyricism, has been likened to Vashti Bunyan, Thea Gilmore and Feist.

The teenage singer/songwriter’s debut single Counting My Fingers won 6 Music’s Rebel Playlist public vote following national radio plays on BBC Radio 2 (Sir Terry Wogan and Steve Lamacq) and 6 Music itself (Radcliffe & Maconie, Chris Hawkins, Shaun Keaveney and Steve Lamacq). It then went on to receive the highest score on Steve’s new releases review show, Roundtable.

Maz has been singing at open mic nights in her home county of Devon since she was 9, performed at London’s Hackney Empire in the final of UK Unsigned when she was 10, started teaching herself guitar and writing songs at the age of 11, and had played 8 of her own compositions at local venues and festivals by the time she turned 13 on Christmas Eve 2009.

2011 saw Maz play her first London shows, her ever changing set being selected from her catalogue of 40+ original songs, plus a different, one-performance-only cover version at each gig. Her solo girl-with-a guitar live performance is a thing of fragile, embryonic beauty. At her dates last year Maz managed to charm and entrance, silencing the usual in-gig chatter with her sensitive, intensely engaging performances.

Sweep combines confessional tales of complicated teen romance with cunning pop hooks and a confident sparkle. Maz’s songwriting and her pure, unaffected voice are not her only talents, as she ably arranged all of Sweep’s musical and vocal parts herself. This superior debut suggests a very bright future.

“Very bright and very promising…we’re looking forward to the album a LOT” – Steve Lamacq – BBC Radio 2

‘Charming’ – Sir Terry Wogan – BBC Radio 2

PIG EARTH – 14’x12’

I don’t know what the neighbours must have thought but from the photo on the insert of Pig Earth’s five track EP I’m sure they couldn’t have been too happy with all of the band recording in the living room! Still I suppose (at least to the band) it must have been a bit of a wheeze and judging from the tracks featured here they all had a good time. From an organic point of view this must have all been pretty positive as the recording displays their music for what it is…an energised, good-time cross of country-folk without any frills. For those old enough to remember them this band brings back fond memories of the Big Geraniums and Lick the Tins who had the same attitudes when it came to the time-honoured tradition of “…if it sounds right – then it is”. Between them Pig Earth unleash a barrage of instruments including guitars, piano, melodeon, mandolin, banjo and percussion with vocals provided by Neil Keveren and Emma Steele and I’m sure will wind up being the darlings of the Radcliffe & Maconie generation.

PETE FYFE