“It doesn’t always take a deep groove to get your attention, but one heck of a hook will certainly do the trick. And New Orleans-based singer-songwriter Kelcy Mae shows off a handful of them on her latest EP, Half-Light. This isn’t your typical Big Easy record. [...] More Natalie Merchant than Hurray for the Riff Raff, more country than alternative. Half-Light is the kind of record that is best appreciated when it is given the spotlight, in a dimly lit room filled with artistic expression, in an atmosphere that fosters reflection. Mae sings about places that we have all been before—not physical places, but the deepest chambers of the heart that bleed when it breaks and race when all is perfect. ...this underground artist knows how to write a good lyric and is just waiting for the right person to hear it.”
"Close your eyes. See the story in your mind, not with open eyes" starts Bright Eyes, the opening track of Kelcy Mae’s Half-Light EP. It's a song that thrusts the singers beautiful voice to the front over a single guitar before gradually building to a musical crescendo. The track shows a deft hand in doing so and serves as an invitation to the listener to an album that pairs solid, straightforward songwriting with a wide ranging musical style with just enough twang at the heart of it all to appeal to any fan of modern Americana. Mae’s voice is one of the album’s best features: think a little bit Bonnie Raitt combined with Natalie Merchant and you’ll have some idea of what she sounds like. Tracks like King of Tennessee and Oh How the Whiskey put it’s southern drawl to good effect pairing it with a driving rhythm while quieter numbers like the album opener and Get Back Home allow the singer to demonstrate her emotional range.
“Singer/songwriter Kelcy Mae has also been published as a prose writer..., so it’s no surprise that the lyrics on her previous releases were the first thing that stood out. On this “double EP”—combining six new tracks with five from last year’s The Fire EP—her words remain remarkably well crafted, with key details revealed in a few vivid phrases. [...] The news here is that she’s also fleshed the songs out musically, with the new tracks sporting a higher level of production/arrangement than before. The stand-out track “Favor” is presented in two versions; one an unassuming folkish take, the other a full-fledged rocker on which her studio band do a good impression of peak-era Los Lobos. [...] Kelcy Mae proves here that you can be literary and still kick up your heels. She stands out from the trend of slow and downcast Americana, and hurray for that.”
“Kelcy Mae is folk meets pop at its best. Her voice is a beautiful blend of expertly displayed smoothness and boldness. In this, her fourth recording project, Mae presents a double EP of 12 tracks. Her music will grab you right in from the first song and you will be held captive throughout the entire album. [...] “Oh How the Whiskey” almost feels like a best of Kelcy Mae album in itself. It’s bluegrass, folk, blues, honkytonk and gospel all rolled into a 3:42 song. It’s very hard to say if Mae’s bigger talent is her voice or her songwriting ability, but it’s easy to take the journey with her.”
“Already a critics' favorite in her native New Orleans, Kelcy Mae may not stay quite so isolated much longer. Her EP from earlier this year, The Fire, was the product of a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised more than $10,000, already suggesting fan support isn't much of a problem for her. Blessed with a voice remarkably similar to Natalie Merchant's, Mae also brushes up against the sad blue-eyed soul of Shelby Lynne and kindles her inner torch singer a la Neko Case - all in the course of The Fire's five brief songs. We hope there's a lot more where that came from.”
“The new EP includes an impressive list of local players; among them lead guitarist Alex McMurray, the Revivalists’ drummer Andrew Campanelli and singers Alexis Marceaux and Alexandra Scott. All five tracks are strong, but “Oh How the Whiskey” was the one that really caught our attention. It has the lively feel of a good drinking song; yet the lyrics are deep with foreboding: “Oh how the whiskey means it’s winter/ Oh how the devil loves a sinner/ Oh how the whiskey burns in summer/Pouring like the sweat of a funeral drummer.” The arrangement pulls a neat trick toward the end, as the fiddle and banjo and overtaken by a gospel choir. Whether the singer gets saved or keeps sinning is up to you.”
“She sang with an easy confidence, ever so slightly raising the energy in the room...Mae and her band controlled the mood of the room, shifting from quiet reverie to a folksy wall of sound sometimes in a single song. Mae often gets labeled as alt-country or alt-folk. That seems to mean that her music is clearly American but can't be pegged to a single region. She writes sharp songs with lyrics that steer clear of cliches.”
"...a specialist in fresh-faced yet soulful alt-country reminiscent of Natalie Merchant."
“Kelcy Mae Weaves Rich Instrumentation, Thoughtful Lyrics into Album (feature)”
“Kelcy Mae (real name Kelcy D. Wilburn) has just released her second full-length album, Pennies in Hand. Wilburn’s lilting vocals set against soulful – sometimes mournful – instrumentation, replete with jaunty banjo and ukulele, synthesize a charming aural canvas, blending components of bluegrass, back-country ballads and modern rock. A Shreveport native, Wilburn relocated to New Orleans as an undergraduate, and has been writing and singing here ever since.”
“Kelcy Wilburn’s latest recording Pennies in Hand is the perfect record to listen to on a lazy weekend day. Filled with peaceful yet compelling vocal melodies and relaxing, well arranged instrumentals, this record is the ideal companion to a glass of lemonade and a rocking chair on a southern style porch. Wilburn’s (better known as Kelcy Mae) Louisiana roots are evident throughout the record, especially on tracks like “Take Your Time.” The thoughtful lyrics in songs like “Carnivale” and the title track “Pennies in Hand” give the listener an insight into the singer/songwriter’s mind while also allowing the listener to identify a meaning of his own.”
“Are you a fan of traditional folk or indie-rock music? Give Kelcy Mae a shot, she won’t disappoint, nor will her very talented background musicians. Mae has a beautiful voice that is both soothing, yet powerful. Relaxing, but it grabs your attention. She developed a love of poetry in high school and now holds an MFA in poetry from the University of New Orleans. Mae released an album in 2011 called Pennies in Hand, which can be purchased on iTunes. Her 2007 album The Times Compiled is also available. On Mae’s website, www.kelcymae.com, you can listen to eight of her songs for free, including my favorite “Swingin’ Low Without a Chariot.” You also will see links for her Facebook page and Twitter feed (@Kelcymae) on there. Check out the calendar on Mae’s website to see when you can watch her perform, or just wait until April 14 and watch her perform at 11 a.m. at the French Quarter Festival on the Esplanade/ Old Mint stage.”
“Kelcy Mae a Top 10 Local CD of 2011: Mae grew up in Shreveport; she moved to New Orleans in 2001 to major in English and minor in music business studies at Loyola University. Her sparkling 2011 release is illuminated by smart wordplay and arrangements, bright, warm production and a voice that recalls Natalie Merchant crossed with the Indigo Girls. Acoustic and electric guitars, banjo, mandolin, fiddle, piano, cello, drums and upright bass factor into the seductive, agreeable mix.”
“ “...solid ground for Kelcy Wilburn, whose voice is warm and distinctive, and whose lyrics are intelligent...a reason to keep paying attention to Kelcy Mae.” ”
“Pennies in Hand sparkles with nuanced vocals, smart wordplay and a bright, warm production that casts arrangements in a flattering light.”
“Kelcy Mae's album Pennies in Hand is a bold statement against the stereotypes associated with singer songwriters. These are songs with guts, with purpose, and with legs. Her heart is all over these songs, but her musical head makes them great. A pleasure to listen to from track one til the end. A true success, in a field of just okays.”
“In New Orleans, we are lucky to be treated to so many great performing songwriters. Kelcy Mae is one of them, her lyrics vivid and unforgettable. Pennies in Hand has this great summer breezy feeling—even the sad songs will make you feel good.”
"...an impressive debut, well-crafted and professional."
"...well produced, solid first album."