Mary Middlefield: Poetry (for the scorned and lonely)

Last December, Mary Middlefield released “Sexless,” the second single from her then upcoming EP, Poetry (for the scorned and lonely). The song was a far cry from the album’s lead single, “Atlantis” which was a weighty alt-folk track with melodramatic lyrics like “If you were the ocean, I would drown myself in you.” “Sexless” was a tongue-in-cheek jaunt reminiscent of 90’s Jill Sobule or more modernly Courtney Barnett. She sings “I haven’t had sex in the past year, it’s not as bad as it sounds” over strummed distorted guitar before recalling hooking up with a man who doesn’t smell nice, a man with a tanline on his finger, and how back in the day there was “always someone down to fuck.”

These lead singles sound both musically and lyrically like they were written by different people. You can make the argument that all artists contain multitudes and “Atlantis” and “Sexless” just show different sides of Middlefield but I do think it is enough to wonder what does Poetry (for the scorned and lonely) actually have in store for the listeners.

The fact is the album is much more “Atlantis” than “Sexless.” “Love me, Love me not?” is mostly just Middlefield and an acoustic guitar; she sings lines like “he’s my trauma, he’s my love” and “I’ll cook for you and feed you too, just promise you’ll stay true.” As the title indicates, “Last Letter (acoustic version)” is another all acoustic affair although some gorgeous strings swell towards the end to create an emotional crescendo.

In fact, the only time that distorted guitar is heard again after “Sexless” is “Young and Dumb” which was released as a single in March. The song is devoid of the quirky charm of “Sexless” but it does have an angstiness that should resonate with Olivia Rodrigo fans.

While it does seem that “Sexless” was a one-off lightning-in-a-bottle moment, Poetry (for the scorned and lonely) does still deliver plenty to like. Between Middlefield’s consistently interesting vocal melodies and vulnerable lyrics to the near virtuosic guitar playing, the eight songs on the EP make for an emotional and fulfilling listening experience.

Rating: 6.0/10

Listen on Apple Music

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