Like many other bands, MintJulep had his formation around UC Berkeley, the well-known school of jazz and modern music. And like many other bands, MintJulep are great! It was the year of 2016 and what started as a fun side project between Maya Morales (singer and songwriter) and Tristan Burke (keyboards) quickly became serious when the bassist and producer James Sud joined the duo and started to work in Maya’s original songs. Matt Fyke, the drummer, was the last, but not the least, joining and completing the formation. Almost 3 years after, they’re releasing their first EP, Sonic Medicine, A 6-track album, soulful, sexy and rhythmic, showing MintJulep’s identity.
Last year the released the opening track Better as their first single and later the same year the closing song of the EP, In Tandem (we’ll get there later, as we’ve already covered it before), was launched as a single too. And actually what better way to open the “show” if not with positivism and bliss? Better is a serene song, a classic R&B-jazz that highlights Maya’s voice. The softness of the drums and keyboard give space to imagine what they are capable of and at the same time allow this beautiful dance between the vocals and the bass lines. Is as sweet and lovable as it can be.
Then Mrs. Seuss comes mysterious and intriguing, sounding sweet and almost naïve from Morales’ voice. This is an almost-blues track, a storytelling, reminding the most charismatic rock-blues form the 70’s, played in a jazzy mood. The combination is strangely gorgeous and catchy as the melody slightly gets pop-ish and very easy to learn and fall in love for. Speaking in falling for, the EP keeps playing and the song that comes next is the dynamic Fall. It’s impossible to not notice how the band grows their music from song to song, is like they were telling us the story of the band formation, gradually including instruments and sonorities and even Maya’s vocals become more rasp and sassy. The whole band actually sound more dynamic and we can guess they’re having fun: the structure of Fall appears to be a jam where the musicians “miraculously” stablish a true connection between all. And when that sense of freshness, youth and excitement is shown in a mature band that means they’re going in the right direction.
“6 Months after you broke my heart” opens the 4th track and chills the vibe of the record. The band keeps sounding cohesive and the melody returns to a smooth R&B-pop as Maya sings her heart and soul out. This is the most vulnerable song of the EP and it sounds just as fragile and shy, and the instrumental is put perfectly around the vocals’ melody, covering all its weakness. 6 Months is a dreamy composition reminding Lianne La Havas for instance, almost not noticing that’s a brokenhearted one.
The construction and build-up of the record remains the same as in the “first part” of it, and Goodnight Moon accelerates the rhythm a little bit and the sexiness of Fall is shown again: with a twist of exotic and oriental sonorities MintJulep reinvents their style but not their identity as it keeps their mark. The brass arrangement transports us to a circus or philharmonic orchestra and lets us dream and imagine beautiful things. We can feel the EP is coming to an end but at the same time we know a window is left open for new and unexpected songs and sonorities.
As we mentioned before, the way the band built the whole EP as they were telling us their story is confirmed in the last song, In Tandem. They started softly, almost only with voice and keyboards and a shy dancing bass line, and ended in tandem, with full crew, embodied and complex sonorities. MintJulep sound now more unique and defy-genre and we get the idea that Maya’s voice is incredibly versatile, which helps the band creating different and always new and modern sonorities.