The sudden breakup of Moses Mayfield (originally The Stewart-Mayfield Project) after a well-received major label debut, left plenty of people shaken three years ago. The album, The Inside, proved to them that the Birmingham-based band had potential even if they sounded too polished.
We'll never know. Six weeks prior to the debut, the label created a rift within the band. And unlike many bands, they decided that they would rather walk away. But Matthew Mayfield still wanted to play. He did as an independent, with about $1,000 worth of studio time, enough to produce The Fire, an 8-track EP. He has released several more since.
Man-Made Machines by Matthew Mayfield makes ten.
Man-Made Machines builds upon Mayfield's past experience as a song crafter with an increasingly ragged voice and layered tracks. Ever since he embarked on a solo career, Mayfield has become increasingly honest, underproduced, and unpolished. This creates a compelling atmosphere.
Here's a sampling. This one is last year's Open Road from an earlier EP, captured live a few days ago by a fan in Birmingham. Attendees saved $4 by bringing two cans of food that were donated to the Jimmie Hale Mission in Birmingham.
If you've heard Open Road on Five Chances Remain Hers before, you'll note a new roughness in Mayfield's voice in the live play. This roughness punctuates all five track on Man-Made Machines, including the title track. So do Mayfield's melodies, that freely bob up and down on the water, sinking and rising in a measured, hypnotic pace.
Mayfield once said in an interview that all he ever wanted to do was sound like something better than just any guy with an acoustic guitar. All five tracks from Man-Made Machines reach and raise that self-set watermark. Of the five, only Cycle slips into the background. Golden Opportunity, Safe & Sound, and the title track all reach a deeper level. Who Am I is a dynamic acoustic song that questions some deep convictions.
Mayfield is currently working on a full-length album set for spring. Some of the funding for the EPs came from fans. He raised enough money for studio time with producer Paul Moak and $2,000 for the International Justice Mission, which he dedicated to contributors. Watch for it.
Matthew Mayfield's Man-Made Machines Steals A 7.1 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.
Singer/songwriters who take the independent route and have to slug it every step always get better with age. Mayfield is the kind of singer for whom people will be digging deep to find early tracks and special releases. That makes it all the more important to follow him on Facebook and elsewhere.
On Facebook and his website, he recently released two working demos, All The Same and Cold Day. For Man-Made Machines, visit iTunes. On Amazon, find Man-Made Machines here.