Mav Karlo Releases New Album Strangers Like Us
Mav Karlo (the solo project of Menno Versteeg, the founder of Royal Mountain Records) has released his flawless debut album, Strangers Like Us.
His first full-length, Strangers Like Us closely documents an especially tough period in Versteeg’s life, and ultimately arrives at an undeniable courage in its commitment to truth-telling and unsparing self-examination. Produced by Chris Coady (Amen Dunes, Beach House, Future Islands) and recorded at two iconic studios (Sunset Sound in L.A. and Sonic Ranch in the Texas border town of Tornillo), Strangers Like Us features gracefully sparse arrangements and centres on Versteeg’s lyrical storytelling, revealing a narrative voice deeply attuned to the beauty in the ordinary and routinely overlooked. Despite a stripped-back approach, Strangers Like Us draws incredibly rich texture from Versteeg’s delicate melodies and warm vocal work, and from the spirited performances of guest musicians Katy Goodman of Vivian Girls (on vocals), Charlie Spencer of Dizzy (keys, drums), and Versteeg’s Hollerado bandmate Nixon Boyd (guitar, bass).
Naming Tom Petty and John Prine among his inspirations, Versteeg first began creating as Mav Karlo last year in the midst of constant upheaval, equally driven by an urge to expand his horizons as a songwriter and a need for the raw catharsis of unfettered expression. An album elegantly steeped in memory, Strangers Like Us navigates the often painful act of looking back with grit and clarity and unbridled imagination. Versteeg says, “A lot of the record is about looking within and trying to find the source of your pain, trying to figure out why you behave the way you do, but by the end there’s a sense of starting to trust yourself. So even though there might still be self-doubt, it’s a confident kind of self-doubt—an understanding that everyone feels this way sometimes, and you’ve got to just keep pushing on.”