Maylee Todd's methodology to music traverses realms of pop, electronic and soul, to positive effect. Acts of Love is her latest endeavour, and it finds the 30-something artist leaning in on an electronic yet organic approach to groove.
While previous efforts — including 2010 debut Choose Your Own Adventure, and 2013's Escapology — were personal outings, Acts of Love takes things to a new level; it's the result of a concerted DIY effort that involved total control of the means of production, from writing, arranging and composing to engineering. In delving into issues of identity, addiction, solitude, forgiveness, fidelity and empowerment, Todd brings forth an intimately constructed, elegantly composed LP of bedroom soul.
"Afanyala" opens things with an impressively intimate touch, a stripped down, Sade-inspired bass and organ piece that discusses wanderlust on both a physical and emotional level. "Virtual Life" is full of '80s electro-soul portent — "Let's synthesize our state for this evening," she sings — in a paean to self-discovery and determination.
Todd pivots with "From this Moment," an understated, strings-underscored empowerment anthem that calls out patriarchy from all angles — perpetrators and enablers alike — to plead for advancement and understanding. "Eye to Eye" commits to sink or swim on its early '80s Madonna dance-pop — complete with Full Force-styled production — and swims ably, while "Disco Dicks 5000," a catchy dance ditty that veers on the right side of sentimentalism, follows in the same throwback flavour.
The electro sweep of "Secret Teacher" reveals Todd's growing compositional and production mastery (and reverence to late '70s hypno-synth sounds), and while the playful soul of "Goat Wut U Need" runs a bit slight, "One of These Days" picks up the pace with a head-nodding midtempo groove and the orchestral "That's All I'll Do" is equal parts reflective and resonant as it wistfully makes peace with a dissolved relationship.
On Acts of Love, Todd has found herself — not committed to any particular genre, but to music highly rooted in authenticity, integrity and emotional complexity. (Do Right!)