May Erlewine and the Healing Power of Music

. October 1, 2017.
Photo: John Hanson
Photo: John Hanson

May Erlewine’s voice could heal a burdened heart. And don’t a lot of us have one these days? You can have a profound experience just listening to the latest album from the Traverse City-based singer/songwriter, but the experience will be more profound in person at The Ark on October 21st.

There’s a sacred-feeling energy that emanates when Erlewine performs. Her intention, really, is to forge feeling. “I’m always reaching for that, and trying to stay connected with the audience,” she says. “Whatever it is, let’s just feel it. ‘Cuz things are moving fast, ya know?”

Introducing Mother Lion

Erlewine has been writing and recording music for several years, having traveled around Michigan (and much of the country) to perform her tender blends of Americana-folk and soft, soulful rock odes. Her latest, Mother Lion, features recorded contributions from several Michigan music scene vets like Theo Katzman, Joe Dart, and Woody Goss (who comprise 3/4’s of Vulfpeck), as well as Joey Dosik, Lindsay Lou, Jeremy Kittel, and Antwaun Stanley.

Her sweetly melodic songs, with rustling percussion, shimmering pianos, and flares of fiery electric guitars, are brave bearings of a heart breaking in real time. Adornments from strings and choir-like backing vocals augment Erlewine’s fluttering, heaving voice. She fearlessly shows vulnerability during certain verses, and fiercely pushes back with deeply affecting choruses. These lyrics know right where the bruises are; things we’ve all been feeling at one time or another (especially this past year). Mother Lion aims to share an alleviation of the human soul.

Erlewine’s mission – dig really deep

“I try to (make music) that’s working toward acceptance of what is,” she says, “even if whatever that is, is challenging. And so (the songs) just keep getting deeper, as things get harder. That’s my great work that I have to do, to dig deep and help people be, and feel, what’s in their hearts, fully. I don’t know if I always get there, but that’s my intention.”

Erlewine is a key figure in the northwestern Michigan-based Earthworks Music Collective. Her musical life has blossomed over the last decade with her solo albums, along with singing folk songs with the Sweet Water Warblers and groovy big band numbers with The Motivations. A guitarist, who also plays the piano and viola, her songs have touchstones in traditional country and folk, but expand, lyrically, into more worldly, contemplative and empathetic terrains.

Mother Lion may be a bit heavier than Erlewine’s previous releases, but you’ll still feel a weight lifted after hearing these songs.

While Mother Lion won’t be officially released until November, special release shows are scheduled for Michigan audiences throughout October. These concerts will showcase the new songs with an incredible band featuring, Julian Allen, Tyler Duncan, Max Lockwood, Anand Nayak and Katie Van Deusen.

May Erlewine @ The Ark
316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor
Mother Lion Release Show, Saturday, October 21
8pm | $20

734-761-1800 | Therark.org

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