Originally from Dayton, singer-songwriter Maëry Lanahan moved to Columbus three years ago and took her fledgling label, Not My Fault Records, with her. She released her six-song debut, The First One, on Not My Fault four years ago and has issued the follow-up, Lessen, on it as well. As you can tell by the way she spells her first name (it's Maëry, not Mary), Lanahan's music is of the ethnic folk variety. She's the kind of singer who plays at candlelit coffeehouses and burns incense during her sets. Her bandmates -- percussionist Brian DeWeese, bassist Tod Weidner, didgeridoo player Kevin DeWeese, and tambourine player Mary King -- create a rich tapestry of folk and world-beat music that draws from Indian, Australian, and American cultures.
Lanahan's howling vocals can be visceral, too, recalling PJ Harvey or Ani DiFranco at times. But too often she sounds more like folk lightweight Edie Brickell. The blurb on her website, a quotation from Counting Crows' Matt Malley, actually points to her primary flaw: "And you can tell by listening to her music that meditation and introspection are not just a hobby for her, but a way of life." Meditative music might work well for yoga classes and coffeehouse study sessions, but its appeal is limited. In the opening song, "Pomegranate Seeds," Lanahan makes numerous references to the wonders of nature (rivers and mountains) and continues to cite the outdoors as an inspiration in "Vessel of Me" and "Forest." But it quickly becomes redundant -- only on the more relaxed closing track (an untitled song that's not listed) does Lanahan snap out of her "meditative state" to give us something truly natural.