Max Highstein, Hotcakes Review
Max Highstein is a multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter that calls the hot open spaces of New Mexico home. For his latest album, he has many releases in multiple genres; Highstein pairs his jazzy, new-age sounds with adult-contemporary rock. Also on the offering is a balance of vocal and instrumental songs to keep things eclectic. The album is called Hotcakes, and Ed Willet joins Highstein on cello and Mark Clark on drums. In addition, Judy Mitchell plays accordion, and guitarist Jeff Pevar performs on “First Day Out.” The rest of the sounds are Highstein performing on various instruments but featuring his guitar playing and lead saxophone playing.
For those wanting to enjoy an eclectic vocal treat with their Hotcakes, take a bite of “Big TV (Live).” Highstein’s lyrics have many truths and will make you break a smile. His saxophone playing takes the lead instrument role. His tone is bright and a little shaky, which adds to the charm of the song’s appeal. The songwriting is kept simple to allow the lyrics to be the center of attention. This simplicity is a good choice, and the quirky nature of the lyrics fits his vocal style. He is showing maturity and an understanding of his strengths and weaknesses.
“Jamby Jamby” is another quirky vocal selection that, based on the accompanying video, has a similar theme as “Big TV (Live).” The funky feel is enhanced by horn stabs and Highstein’s saxophone fills. In addition, the organ sound brings a nice Motown sound that many will appreciate, and Highstein solos on the organ and saxophone in the selection, showing his many talents.
Hotcakes is for the music lover that likes a wide variety of styles and a little humor in their lyrics. Highstein is a talented multi-instrumentalist, and the use of the cello adds further to the album’s eclectic nature. Jazz is a visceral part of Highstein’s soul, and as he branches out to rock and adult contemporary, those roots bring in an affinity for rhythm and melodic colors. As Highstein pursues his many narratives of sounds, his natural sense of wit strengthens the music. The sonic landscape is raw, but that fits his style and should not keep you from taking a hefty serving of Hotcakes.
October 21, 2022