Sep 22, 2022
By Austin Saalman
Maya Hawke’s sophomore effort MOSS feels more spare than 2020’s autumnal Blush, as though the passing season has diminished its lush foliage to a spectral winterscape, the bare bones of the Stranger Things actress’ creative soul protruding upward through the snow. On MOSS, this quality is a virtue, as it provides Hawke an even more intimate setting in which to share confessional snapshots of her life. While Hawke’s recounted memories are unique to her own world, the album retains an emblematic quality, its sense of melancholic uncertainty and wistful pining reflecting a universal experience shared among twenty-somethings everywhere. MOSS embodies that strange chrysalis in which reckless adolescence transmogrifies into something more thoughtful, more perspicacious. As a first listen to the album reveals, Hawke seems to be navigating those waters more gracefully than some, her lyrical observations and reflections rich in introspective consciousness, their visions realized with skill and clarity.
Lyrically, MOSS is simultaneously raw and eloquent, Hawke’s words youthfully forward, while maintaining a certain literary tone. Sung in hushed breaths, her tales of desire, heartache, and personhood at times resemble ghost stories, the album’s lo-fi indie folk style lending many tracks a haunting atmosphere. The presence of co-producer and Okkervil River member Benjamin Lazar Davis likely contributes to this quality, his stark musical sensibilities easily discerned on “Crazy Kid,” “Sticky Little Words,” and “Restless Moon.” MOSS’ key tracks find Hawke shining brightly, breathing fresh life into the popular indie folk sound and setting herself far apart from her peers, with standouts “Hiatus,” “Thérèse,” “Driver,” and “Mermaid Bar” suggesting that, should she wish, Hawke could likely retire from acting and enjoy a lucrative career as a promising singer/songwriter—all the more impressive considering her remarkable onscreen abilities.
Like her father Ethan, the younger Hawke is a creative polymath with eclectic interests, far too capable to be dismissed as a dabbler, her projects devoid of vanity. MOSS is a welcome addition to the 2020s indie canon, its sincerity, skill, and intelligence providing a consistent air of relatability. Maya Hawke emerges as one of the decade’s most promising artists and her newest album serves to reinforce the point. Striking, passionate, devastating, and, ultimately, revitalizing, MOSS is a breath of fresh air, a stirring vision of young adulthood in blue. (www.mayahawkemusic.com)
Author rating: 8/10
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