Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the Free Press
Graham Clark
Music Features Writer
1:00 AM 30th March 2024

Albums: Mae Defays - A Deeper Ocean

Mae Defays - A Deeper Ocean

Intro; Diamond in The Rough; Mangrove; High Tide; Mother of Pearl; A Deeper Ocean; Open Your Arms To Me; Rivers of Your Mind; Follow; Miracle; Released; Enfants De L’Orage


French-born Maë Defays is a new artist who has released one of the best debut albums of the year so far with this accomplished, infectious, and memorable set of songs.

If Defays were British, the album would be a worthy contender for a nomination for the Mercury Music Prize, with an album that is superlative, seductive, and sophisticated.

Her speciality is an intoxicating brand of Neo-Soul mixed with a jazzy touch. Add a sprinkle of D’Angelo, a dash of Erykah Badu, a touch of Janelle Monáe, and Sade, and you will discover the musical palette on offer here.

On A Deeper Ocean, she explores the ocean of the human soul through symbolic worlds of water and earth, seamlessly fusing music and poetry. The album masterfully navigates and seamlessly ties human emotions, stories, personal exploration, cultural heritage, and love for a natural world in danger into a musical tapestry of Maë’s creation.

Diamond in the Rough sounds like the perfect soundtrack to enjoying an outdoor performance at one of the European Jazz Festivals this summer—best sampled with a fine glass of wine in one hand and the sound of this sublime track in the background.

Likewise, Mangrove conjures up the image of summer days spent in the Mediterranean, even under the grey skies of Northern Europe. The song brings the bright rays of the summer sun onto a dark landscape.

Just when you think things could not get any better, the album excels even further on a deeper set of tracks, especially on Rivers of Your Mind, a soulful number that sounds timeless.

Another delicate ballad sets the scene yet again, leading the way for anyone who appreciates a melodic, soul-drenched number. Miracle comes with a mournful piano refrain that tugs at the heartstrings. “No one is coming down to rescue us,” Defays sings, though little does she realise that she is the saviour here of modern Neo-Soul besides the environmental-infused lyric.

Concluding with Released, where a violin adds a melancholy side to the track, Defays shows her another side to her personality. Enfants De L’Orage (Children of the Storm), sung in her native French, aptly sums up the storm of new talent brewing here.

A brilliant triumph that does not disappoint on an album that is pure class from beginning to end.