Ria Mae Holiday Inn, Truro NS, November 6

Ria Mae Holiday Inn, Truro NS, November 6
Photo: Ryan McNutt
"You look way too good to leave this all to luck."

That's the best line in Ria Mae's new single, "Clothes Off," a sexy, swaggering track that lays its pop ambitions bare the moment the beat kicks in. Mae's upcoming record is produced by Classified and, based on the full-band portion of her Nova Scotia Music Week set, driven by bass-and-drums, it sounds like an escape route from the singer-songwriter ghetto that so many solo female performers get (usually unfairly) slotted into.

That said, Mae's shift in her songwriting isn't as radical as it might seem, as the first, acoustic half of her set proved. A song like "Leaving Today" still works as a solo track— last night (November 6), aided by fellow Haligonian Kim Harris on harmonies — with Mae stretching each syllable until it threatens to snap. Even at their most forceful, her performances are needy, vulnerable. The difference is that her new songs are infused with repetition: they repeat hooks, phrases, sometimes even single words, grabbing the ear and then twisting it into just enough different melodic directions to keep you fully engaged.

Mae summed up the difference in her approach by noting Classified's preference for using 808s in the studio. "It's so they shake the car when you're driving," she explained. "I'm learning a lot about cars." Judging by the eagerness of the industry-festival-first-night keener crowd to groove to the material, the songs are ready to shake more than just cars.