Showcasing dazzling guitar sensibilities, Maria Shepard’s influences range from traditional English folk to acoustic indie, demonstrating an already ambitious sonic palette that can only expand in the future.
Although Shepard’s sparse instrumentation and immaculately controlled voice might tempt comparisons to Phoebe Bridgers, self-titled-era Misty Miller and even, in her more powerful moments, London Grammar, Shepard is already carving out a sparse sound all of her own.
Slower tracks such as ‘This Is The Storm’ serve to highlight Shepard’s sophisticated musical talent, featuring some satisfyingly subtle layering, while the more up-tempo tunes showcase radio-ready folk waiting to be discovered. The chorus of ‘At Last’, following from a simple melodic verse, proves to be unexpectedly catchy; carol ‘The Quiet of Christmas’ is a future yuletide classic, feeling like a modern take on a traditional structure; while the bittersweet ‘So I’ll See You’ is as infectious as it is moving.
The latter is Shepard’s early-career standout, exemplifying Maria’s expert ability to combine more introspective slow-build verses with catchy choruses, betraying a maturity past her years.
Feeling simultaneously traditional and refreshing, Shepard is making English acoustic-indie folk music relevant to the 21st century while never feeling dated or as though she’s retreading old ground. Deceptively simple songs command repeated listening to appreciate the artist’s musical and lyrical nuances, combining ingenious moments with melodic accomplishments.
Easy-listening instrumentation meets cutting lyrical introspection and accomplished songwriting to make a formula with an appeal for all ages. Feeling both nostalgic and instantly timeless, Shepard’s tunes are more than just indie-acoustic folk. With talent as sharp as this, let’s hope that listeners start to take notice.