Max Highstein, Hotcakes Review
by: Rudy Palma
Max Highstein is a songwriter based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, who is releasing his latest album, Hotcakes. With a combination of instrumental and vocal selections, Highstein brings new sonics to his pop-rock-styled music with saxophone playing and singing. He also surprises on guitar, handily laying down smooth solos and propelling backing rhythms on several tracks. In addition, four tunes are vocal pieces with catchy lyrics and a personable, rich delivery.
“Big TV (Live)” is a fusion of rock meets Latin rhythms, with Highstein’s light vocals leading the way. The lyrics are playful and paint a relatable picture. His saxophone is expressive and pairs with his vocal style. Highstein’s addition of vocal backgrounds and influences for a wide range of musical sounds gives this song much appeal. Ed Willet on cello adds a unique color as Judy Mitchell adds charming and in-the-pocket accordion sounds too.
“Diner” continues in the same vein as the before-mentioned song, with Highstein’s witty, almost comical lyrics leading us through a relatable storyline. The songwriting is well-structured and benefits from the many textures of instruments and broad influences. Again, Highstein’s saxophone takes his music past the typical singer-songwriter into a texture that adds a sophisticated element to his music.
Hotcakes is the perfect soundtrack for those mornings when you can barely get out of bed to make a hot beverage. Hotcakes is a magnetic recording that does not attempt to hide its rawness, ultimately resulting in a very personal listening experience with both instrumental and vocal gems.