We live in a unique time where celebrities (mainly actors) branch out to try their hand in other various artistic mediums. A personal favorite is H. Jon Benjamin’s “Well I Should Have… (Learned How to Play Piano),” which may as well be considered antijazz, because, well… no, you get the idea already. Benjamin’s jazz album, however, is a strong example of celebrity music in that it doesn’t sound like trash (in fact, “Well I Should Have…” is one of the funniest records I’ve ever heard, and it’s a delight).
Art, and to a larger extent, music, should be accessible to everyone, regardless of what art medium they gravitate to normally. It’s rare that a celebrity music album garners much critical acclaim, and probably for good reason. Robert Downey Jr.’s “The Futurist,” and Corey Feldman’s “Angelic 2 the Core” stand out simply as laughably abysmal, and it often makes me wonder what many actors are intending to envision with their musical endeavors at all.
I wouldn’t recommend anyone to sort through the tedious backlog of celebrity albums out there, but this week’s record, “Blush,” by Maya Hawke of the “Little Women” TV series and “Stranger Things” Season 3 fame, rights many of the wrongs done by actors attempting to break ground in the music industry. Combining sweet indie folk melodies with even prettier indie pop lyricism, Hawke writes songs as if they were secret Valentine letters that may or may not have endearing contents within. I might call the record wholesome, but that almost seems belittling considering how well-written and memorable many of the songs are (“A River Like You” and “Cricket” as obvious stand-outs).
Although Hawke’s debut isn’t exactly groundbreaking, it doesn’t need to be. The little experiments she tinkers with make for such a chill headspace that it’s like she’s invited us on a brief tour inside her mind. And it’s a wonderful experience, notwithstanding how very much like a debut record this feels like. Despite how under-the-radar “Blush” may end up being, Hawke succeeds where many other celebrity musicians haven’t in that she’s woven in true-to-self honesty in every track. Where Hawke’s acting career demonstrates her gravitas as an artist on-screen, Hawke sketches a selfportrait in “Blush” that is so authentic it’s almost unreal. I might be a big “Stranger Things” fan, but it’s Maya Hawke’s musical ventures that I will be keeping my eye out for in the future.