New Music Reviews: Mary Timony and Erika de Casier

Two very different female solo artists this week. Mary Timony is a thirty-year indie veteran, having made her name in the 1990s with Helium. Portuguese-born Erika de Casier makes breezy R&B/pop.

Mary Timony

Untame the Tiger

2024, 7.5/10
I only discovered Mary Timony’s work recently. I enjoy her 1990s albums with Helium, The Dirt of Luck and The Magic City. She made alternative rock records, with a slight hint of progressive rock sophistication.

Since Helium’s breakup, she’s worked in different contexts. She’s collaborated with Carrie Brownstein in The Spells and Wild Flag. She also fronts the trio Ex Hex. Untame the Tiger is her fourth solo album and her first since 2005.

It finds Timony in a melancholy mood. Three life events followed in quick succession – the end of a long-term relationship was followed by her father’s illness. She acted as her father’s caregiver. Immediately after her father’s death, her mother was diagnosed with stage-4 cancer. Timony juggled recording Untame the Tiger with caring for her mother. The record features a Fairport Convention stalwart on drums.

In ten years when you think back to the making of this album, what do you think you’ll remember?

Working with Dave Mattacks. He’s this legendary drummer who played on every 70s record that you can think of, all these classic records that I’ve listened to thousands of times. Nick Drake. Brian Eno. Stuff that’s like the Bible to me. 

Mary Timony, interview in Post-Trash

There’s some lovely guitar on the opener ‘No Thirds’ – it’s almost reminiscent of Television with its sprawling feel and spidery guitar. Lead single ‘Dominoes’ addresses Timony’s breakup – it was a last-minute addition to the album after Timony remembered a demo she’d made. ‘Don’t Disappear’ feels like energetic garage rock. Timony’s strongest skill is her guitar work – she’s the only guitarist on the record, and her leads on the title track are lovely.

I’m woefully ignorant of Timony’s work between Helium and Untame the Tiger, but it’s a fine record.


Erika de Casier

Still

2023, 8/10
I’ve already featured Portuguese-Danish producer and vocalist Erika de Casier a couple of times in this column. Often I come from a rockist perspective, where I like music to mean something. But De Casier’s breezy tunes somehow work for me, her gentle voice sounding lovely atop smooth R&B grooves.

De Casier enjoyed a successful 2023, co-writing the global hit ‘Super Shy’ for K-pop band NewJeans. It was ranked by The Fader as the best song of 2023. Now she’s back with her third record, Still.

Unusually, she’s raw and direct on ‘The Princess’, her voice cracking as she sings “I wanna be a mom and still do my job/Why can’t I have it all?” But she generally sticks in her lane of poised and sophisticated R&B, with just a hint of sass. ‘Lucky’ features a lovely piano sample, while ‘Ice’ and ‘Ex-Girlfriend’ are other memorable tracks.

De Casier’s relaxed and intimate R&B is consistently strong and Still is another worthwhile record.

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7 Comments

  1. I really like Mary Tomony…like you said….yea the guitar is very good…busy without sounding busy. I also like her voice and I wouldn’t mind checking out more of her songs.

    • She’s pretty much the only musician on the record apart from the rhythm section players, so I guess she has some control over how full sounding it is. I like the records she made with Helium in the 1990s.

  2. Both artists are new names to me. Mary Timony with her guitar-driven indie sounds like up my alley. Erika de Casier probably less so, based on my first impression. That said, it’s nice to hear from a Danish artist of Portuguese origin.

    • Yup, I would have assumed you’d prefer Timony to de Casier. de Casier sounds like something I would find too trivial, but I always like her records.

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