George Maple aka Jessica Higgs, mesmerises in debut EP Vacant Space, a sensual, electronic treat drawing inspiration from the talents of label mates like Touch Sensitive and Ta-ku on Future Classic.
Title track ‘Vacant Space’ is raw. Like cold-shower-afterwards raw. With opening lines “It’s better with the lights off.. It’s better when you slow it down.. It’s better when I stop thinking ’bout it”, no it’s not your dirty mind, and it’s not even one for reading-between-the-lines. ‘Vacant Space’ takes the raunchy, pointed lyrics, the come-hither voice and builds a momentum of bass and synth, building up to a erm.. climax.. which by no seeming accident coincides with Maple’s writhing moans.
Post cigarette/cold-shower, moving onto another highlight of the album, ‘Talk Talk’ has already clocked up an impressive 2 million listens and it’s easy to hear why. It’s an upbeat track with a heartbeat-like bass and the characteristically sexy but ethereal George Maple vocals effortlessly arrest you. You will catch the simple lyrics on repeat in your head long after, but it’s the intangible warmth of this track that will have you pining for that special touch.
We get halfway through the EP and things get decidedly experimental and jazzy. ‘Began To Say’ is a meandering example of this, not one you will enjoy if you came expecting more ‘Talk Talk’, but all the same one you’ll appreciate with any interest in jazz/blues and how the two are starting to have a heavier influence in Australian electro. ‘Gripp’ continues in the same vein, Maple’s vocals are the constant and a highlight (slash turn on), but the production is the hero of this track for me with a bevy of samples ornamenting throughout and keeping you guessing.
All in all the music of the Vacant Space EP takes plenty of cues from electro and indie artists we are seeing positively killing it at the moment, the aforementioned Touch Sensitive, Ta-ku, amongst them, but it’s Maple’s voice, and unblinking feminine sexuality, that make this EP so special. There’s a richness and range to her voice that put Maple in the same class as virtuoso’s like Hannah Reid (London Grammar), and yet we hear R’n’B tones all through (think nineties Mariah). In a time of anaconda’s and twerking taking up way too much room in news feeds, it’s refreshing to see a female vocalist own her sexuality and not settle to be simply an object of someone else’s.
From jazz and blues to R’n’B and electro, sexuality and experimental production, there is just so much in this EP that it makes guessing exactly what George Maple does next a bit of a conundrum, but I’m sure it will be the goods.. the sexy sexy goods.
George Maple‘s Vacant Space EP is available now from iTunes, thanks to Future Classic.