Mary Bue knows just when to bend a guitar string and exactly how long to sustain a piano chord so each wavers and fades exquisitely. On Boat With No Oars, Bue’s third album, the Minneapolis artist exhibits this sense of timing with melodies that rise and fall, rock side-to-side and often batter themselves against the shores of recklessly bold lyrics. While Bue is a young musician, she sings with a swaggering, sweet confidence beyond her years.
The songs on Boat With No Oars often feature additional instrumentation—a chamberlin in one case, an organ or a mandolin in others—and Bue switches up the timbre of her voice to match them while illuminating the appropriate mood. “Ain’t Nobody” is painfully lovely; Bue pushes every smoky syllable to its brink. Equally bewitching is “The City Trees,” a Dido-esque saunter about urban restlessness.
Boat With No Oars is about relationships, and Bue often drapes her songs with easy maritime imagery like salt, sailing and stars. Despite this, she proves herself an original—lines like “You’re like omega threes to me, baby” indicative of the quirkiness that lends her seafaring collection its distinctive sound. (Erika Fredrickson)
Mary Bue plays Break Espresso, 432 N. Higgins Ave., Wednesday, April 11 at 7 PM. David Boone and Levi Weaver also play. $5.