Los Angeles-based, San Diego native singer songwriter, Mariah Counts, has finally released her highly anticipated new album, “Lost In Sauce”. Mariah’s latest project offers us a both vision of heartbreak and self-empowerment, set against the backdrop of sophisticated, summery pop and subtle contemporary blends of R&B, soul, folk and blues. Ultimately though, her music transcends genre, and is just good for what it is. Written at the end of her last relationship and during quarantine after the break up, the through-line of this captivating mix of shimmering pianos and clean guitars, is Mariah Counts’ razor-sharp focus: her ability to dissect her own emotional vulnerability with cutting, incisive songwriting – all whilst retaining her pop-inspired sensibilities. It is this sensibility that underpins the mesmerizing soundscapes found on “Lost In Sauce”.
Moreover, there’s an emotional maturity that’s palpable across so many songs on the record. It’s as if Mariah Counts has captured the essence of who she really is, in the aftermath of her breakup, and confident enough to share her experiences. “Butterfly Garden” opens the album with its ambient, brooding piano-driven aesthetic, and Mariah’s beautifully nuanced voice, which is more than enough to hold your attention.
The delicate guitar jangle of “To See You Happy” marks an immediate high point on the album. Mariah’s pop sensibilities soar here, in a song that has all the elements mainstream radio craves for – a catchy slow-burning melody, emotional lyrics, and a voice meant to melt hearts. There’s something mantric, totally self-affirming about the title track, “Lost In The Sauce”, as Mariah Counts states the case for who she is, and boldly lays down the gauntlet for whomever may dare to disagree.
Mariah’s unabashed emotional approach to matters of the heart is focused and precise, cutting straight through, rather an around, the problems at stake. It’s a spirit exemplified on “Nothing”, where she clearly admits her vulnerability. “Nowhere to go or hide, because I know what I’m feeling inside. You got a hold on me, and I beg you to notice me,” sings Mariah. As always, her voice and songwriting maintains its lucidity, through a minefield of emotions.
“I misjudged a book by its cover. Now I discovered that you could be the perfect one for me,” are the lines which open “Undercover” a song which essentially describes the events to Mariah Counts’ coming out. “I just want to break the trend with you. And we can give much more than the friends we were before.” Mariah seasons the confessional with style, nuance, and boundless charisma.
This album shows us the artist Mariah Counts has been growing into: an intimate, incisive writer; a conversational singer spinning emotionally affecting beauty out of life experiences. All of which are repeatedly confirmed on tracks like “Is It Too Late”, “Girl To Ignore”, and “Every Dose”, where the push and pull between independence and dependence, as well as regret and relief, effortlessly transition, despite the weighty emotional content. Much has to do with how meticulously honed Mariah’s creative statements are, as she cunningly avoids gratuitous melodrama and overwhelming morbidity.
The album closes with the dynamic “Daisy’s”, which moves between an eloquent airiness and a grounded thump. There is such a gripping sensation when listening to this song, and every other one for that matter, which really ties the album, “Lost In The Sauce”, together as a whole. We find gems of infectious vulnerability, pensive conversation, and determined self-empowerment, all of which, in some way, have a therapeutic function. Ultimately, beyond the stories of emotional struggles, Mariah Counts has accomplished the mission of unpacking the diversity of herself as an individual. Something we should all learn to do ourselves, and more importantly, accept, as the norm.