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"Female singer-songwriters and jazz, they are quickly settled on the basis of comparisons to Joni Mitchell and Norah Jones. The Canadian Mai-Liis is one of the few to pass the test.
On her debut she navigates perfectly between these two worlds. She wrote the lyrics herself, for the music she hired pianist Darin Clendenin. A winning combination ("Oh Well" is an instant standard) partly due to the carefully chosen accompanists with Clendenin's fixed rhythm section (bassist Clipper Anderson , drummer Mark Ivester ) and a number of guest musicians including saxophonist Cory Weeds, trumpet player Charlie Porter (his solo in "Fait Accompli" is an extension of the atmosphere in the theme song of "Bagdad Cafe") and accordionist David Lange (who can do everything). They color exactly where and how it should be. From melodic ballads to blues and samba with even a nod to Steely Dan and Kurt Weill.
After years of learning in local clubs and coffee shops, Mai-Liis deserves wider recognition. Mai-Liis On Life is the ideal calling card."
- Georges Tonla Briquet, Jazz'halo (Belgium)
"It has been my privilege to be a part of this musical journey with Liis. She has an ability to take life experiences familiar to all and tell them in a musically fresh and honest way, resulting in uniquely crafted songs brought to life by a great set of players"
- Greta Matassa
"If Elizabeth Gilbert wanted to be a jazzbo, the results might have been something like what we have here. Coming into her own after years of stops and starts, Mai-Liis isn't a thrush or a cabaret type mainly using jazz to give her voice a voice. It's jazz for women of a certain age that want to hear a voice that knows what they are thinking."
- Chris Spector, Midwest Record
"Vocalist and lyricist Mai-Liss delivers reflections on her experiences supported by a core of Darin Clendenin/p, Clipper Anderson/b and Mark Ivester/dr along with guests Brian Monroney/g, Charlie Portr/tp, Cory Weeds/as-ts and David Lange/acc. Mai-Liis has a world wise breathy tone to her voice, stark with her vibrato with Clendenin on “Sister Child” or slinky during “Number 9” while regretful with Lange’s accordion for “Oh Well”. A gospel tinged “To Whom It May Concern” has her raspily swaying with Weeds’ tenor while she gets breathy on the dreamy “Unicorns and Innocence”. Blue tones with Weeds produce “Carnage in Your Wake” and defiance teams with Porter on “Jilted Woman”. A lot of wrong choices put to various colors."
- George W. Harris, Jazz Weekly
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