Review Fix Exclusive: Maureen Toth Talks ‘Cut Flowers And More

Review Fix chats with singer/songwriter Maureen Toth, who discusses the creative process and goals for her new EP, “Cut Flowers.”

About “Cut Flowers”:

Co-produced by guitarist Jim McGorman, (Avril Lavigne, Michelle Branch, Kate Voegele) and Carlos Calvo (David Duchovny, Adam Levine), Cut Flowers is a collection that expresses Toth’s modern vision, which is colored with similarities for the soul-baring songwriting of Joni Mitchell, Stevie Nicks, and Christine McVie, and the powerful truth-seeking of Patty Griffin, Ani Difranco and Bob Dylan. Over the course of two years, a myriad of collaborative sessions produced a transformative compilation, with deeply satisfying songs exploring the internal landscape and touching on tough subjects that challenge the human condition.

Review Fix: What inspired the sound of Cut Flowers the most?

Maureen Toth: That is a challenging question but I would say it is mostly the time period within which I wrote the songs and of course the individual Producer’s styles that influenced the sounds of the album in the greatest way.

Review Fix: How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard you?

Toth: I would call it a mix of modern Americana with a dash of pop and alternative depending on the song.

Review Fix: How was the track “Little Girl” written? What inspired it?

Toth: I actually wrote that originally on the piano – the verses were written that way. Then I brought it to my Producer, Jim McGorman, to get his help to work out some interesting transitions for the bridge. Once that was done – we modified the lyrics and we had a completed song. It was inspired by those introspective moments you have while you’re creating something artistically and then recognizing that the more you can connect with your unadulterated self ( I could have said inner child but so cliche) the more you grow as a person and an artist. Now that may be the complex answer. The shorter version is – reaching for or desiring the freedom and joy you had as a child once you are an adult and how we get in our own way in that pursuit.

Review Fix: Is there a song on this EP with a great story behind it? Can you share?

Toth: I think the song with the best story is probably Soldier. It was inspired by an article I read in The Sun Magazine about a Vietnam Veteran named Brian S. Wilson ( not the Beach Boy) who became a peace activist through his wartime experience of being a pilot during the Vietnam War. He was protesting US Arms being shipped overseas during the Iran-Contra era and he and a few other activists were blocking railroad tracks of US trains carrying arms. Usually, the trains slowed down or stopped but one day they didn’t. He was hit by the train and he survived but lost both his legs. He continued with his activism in spite of that. His is such a powerful story about war and betrayal and self-evolution and personal strength. I was really moved by his story and so the song was born. This is the extremely truncated version but I would encourage anyone interested at all to check his story out. He wrote a book as well and he is such an inspiration.

Review Fix: Why did you decide to cover Blondie’s “Call Me”?

Toth: Funny – it was just a thought that my husband Nathan had as we were having breakfast out one day. The restaurant was playing it and he said – this could be a cool song to cover and I thought about it because he has great taste in modern music – much better than me. I always loved Blondie’s songs as well so I thought I would mess with it and see if there was something unique there. I learned a rendition on guitar and brought it to Jim McGorman – not necessarily to record but just to show him – and he liked it so much, he got excited about going forward with a recording. We then brought the fabulous drummer Marc Slutsky in, who also now plays drums for me in my band, and he laid a fantastic track down. The rest is history.

Review Fix: How has this EP changed you as a songwriter?

Toth: Well I think to work with fantastic Producers – as I had the great luck of doing on this album – really exposes you to very talented songsmiths. Watching them work on all these different levels and understanding a little more thoroughly their process, definitely has informed me as an artist. Then also supporting the album by playing out over many gigs at different venues has taught me much more about what works and doesn’t work for me in live performance.

Review Fix: How do you want your music to affect people?

Toth: First and foremost I would hope they simply enjoy the individual songs. But then beyond that – my sincere hope is that they are moved on some deeper level and might get into the lyrics and listen more closely to understand what the song is about. If that happens and they resonate with the message – then I am a very happy artist indeed.

Review Fix: What are your goals for this EP?

Toth: I think broader exposure than some of my earlier material would be great. I am progressively prouder of the work that I do and I hope that is an experience that continues for me. But it would be really nice to have more folks hear the material than in the past and hopefully respond to it positively. I have a friend who is doing a film and he will be using one of the tracks in his project, so more of that kind of cross creativity would be really cool as well.

Review Fix: Bottom line, why should someone listen to this EP?

Toth: I think what I can say that I feel is somewhat unique about this group of songs, is that they all have very powerful and big themes even if the songs sound initially gentle or sweet or upbeat etc. Once you get past the surface effect – there is a lot of politic going on. I think the subjects are highly topical and hopefully highly relatable and if folks like the work enough to want to listen to a bit more deeply – it could be worth it.

Review Fix: What’s next?

Toth: I have a number of songs in the pipeline for a new EP that I am very excited about. I think we may release the next one as a single once we have it recorded. There will be more gigs in the LA area promoting the current album as well but I am really keen on taking the time in the next few months to write new material. Then working them out for live performance with the band is a blast. With new material, I have this love affair that happens and I become a bit obsessed with that magic.

About Patrick Hickey Jr. 9170 Articles
Patrick Hickey Jr. is the Founder, Editor-in-Chief, Master Jedi and Grand Pooh-bah of ReviewFix.com and is the author of the book, "The Minds Behind the Games: Interviews with Cult and Classic Video Game Developers," from leading academic and non-fiction publisher McFarland and Company. He is currently the Assistant Director of the Journalism Program at Kingsborough Community College and is a former News Editor at NBC Local Integrated Media and a National Video Games Writer at the late Examiner.com. He has also had articles and photos published in The New York Times, The New York Daily News, Complex and The Syracuse Post-Standard. Love him. Read him.

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