Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Maureen Toth unveils her latest EP, Chiaroscuro, whose title refers to the contrast between light and shadow as they define three-dimensional objects.
Talking about the EP in her recent interview with Guitar Girl Magazine, Toth shared, “This album in particular really reflects the lightness and darkness of this fraught time in human history – the shared trauma and triumphs – and I hope that my music is a good reflection of that dichotomy.”
After attending Boston University, where she studied voice and developed her own style, Toth attended theatre school in Manhattan, followed by moving to the Bay Area and then Los Angeles. In L.A., she met and began collaborating with guitarist Bernie Larsen.
In 2010, Toth released her debut album, Shine, followed by 2016’s EP, Cut Flowers. In 2019, she dropped BLUR, a rock-oriented co-production with Carlos Calvo.
In addition to music, Toth owns and runs Eastern Talent Agency, a successful firm representing highly accomplished department heads for film and television in Los Angeles.
Encompassing six tracks, Chiaroscuro begins with “Liars,” featuring a dark, portentous rhythm with a galloping, rolling cadence, accented by gleaming guitars as Toth’s evocative vocals imbue the lyrics with shadowy energy.
“Lie to me / Till I just can’t see / Lie to me / Tell me I am free.”
Entry points include “Con Te,” with its gorgeously ebbing and rising melody, ranging from soft and delicate to vibrant, layered textures. Sung in Italian and English, Toth displays the honeyed tones of her deluxe voice, highlighted by silky-smooth surfaces and creamy melodicism.
Speaking to the song, Toth says, “‘Con Te’ was written right at the beginning of the pandemic when Italy was one of the first countries hit. This song is a meditation on that time and how I felt people would be feeling about not being able to see or go to their loved ones if they were sick. Thus, the lyrics, ‘If I can’t be with you, then take all my love.’ I suppose it is about the beauty and love that can come from pain and loss.”
A personal favorite because of its blend of Americana and gospel-lite savors, “Don’t Go Near the Water” ties the EP off with twangy opulence. A slow drifting rhythm topped by jangly guitars allows listeners time to luxuriate in Toth’s dreamy voice.
Zeroing in on the ultra-beguiling, luscious feel of Americana music, with Chiaroscuro, Maureen Toth hits the sweet spot.