Mara Levi
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Mara Levi

Band Pop Folk


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"What Are You? GO NYC Magazine Review"

"...her multifaceted personality emerges through simple, honest lyrics. It is impossible to pin the album down to one stylistic genre..." - Go NYC Magazine

"Life's a Ball, On Tap Online Review"

Mara Levi
Written by Stephen Kilroy

Mara Levi’s bio begins: “I’m Mara. I play music,” the directness of which is perfectly reflected in her music.

Levi’s style is not easy to pin down. At times humorous and cynical, she can become instantly introverted and calm, even meek. With “The Homo Song,” simultaneously evoking Stephen Lynch in his most sarcastic sweetness and Randy Newman in satirical nonchalance, she is both honest and clever–no easy feat. On the other hand, “No Difference” recalls Aimee Mann’s best work on the “Magnolia” soundtrack. Her voice lilts effortlessly over a swelling and receding piano accompaniment, alternately reticent and forceful, and powerfully versatile.

The frankness of Levi’s vocals binds the songs together, lending emotion that never sounds contrived and never overshadows her melodies. She dabbles in several styles, reflecting self-proclaimed influences as disparate as Fiona Apple and The Shins. But her vocal style–austere and honest–make the songs genuinely hers. While the instrumentation varies with every track (Levi goes from bare-bones acoustic, to full band, to violin and piano,) it all fits naturally into her body of work. She arranges it all herself, explaining, “I used to teach music, so I enjoyed having control over most of the elements.”
- On Tap Online

"Life's a Ball, Baltimore Out Loud Review"

"...the perfect pop music inside spoke to me instantly. First of all, Levi’s voice is a powerful tool, her musicianship is above par, and her songwriting gifts are considerable. A combination such as that has resulted in some of the most original and admirable songs I’ve heard in a long time." - Baltimore Out Loud

"Life's a Ball, Indie Review"

Artist: Mara Levi

CD: Life's a Ball

Home: Amherst, Massachusetts

Style: Folk Pop

Quote: "A fitting title for this collection of interesting and catchy tunes, because the long and short of it is that this CD is fun to listen to."

By Kevan Breitinger

Mara Levi lives in a brave new world, and it’s quite the pleasant place. Life’s a Ball takes us on a delightful tour of her corner of the planet, serving as her general commentary on life as well as clueing us in to her passion for baseball, cleverly apparent in the disc packaging. A fitting title for this collection of interesting and catchy tunes, because the long and short of it is that this CD is fun to listen to.

Multi-talented, with a strong background of musical training, Levi writes all thirteen songs, plays a number of instruments, including guitar, bass, piano, keyboards and trumpet, and is a master arranger. Life’s a Ball covers a wide range of topical subjects and a variety of styles, weaving in folk, pop, rock and even a touch of country. Her eclectic songs are engaging for the most part and warmly accessible, her voice wandering between plain and soprano, almost falsetto at moments. While she brings Alanis Morissette to mind at times, she is very much her own person.

Opening strong with “In My Head," the first thing you notice is the intelligence blaring through both the lyrics and the fat hooks. Detailing the break-up of her college band, Kid Sampson, the tune is loaded with catchy guitar rhythms and interesting changes. The next tune that will not fail to capture your attention is the delightfully quirky “Hey Mister," a showcase for her considerable arranger chops, with its multi-level vocal tracks, harmonies reminiscent of the best Beach Boys. The plainness of Levi’s voice rides beautifully above the ethereal backup vocals.

“So Sorry” follows; it is one of a few tunes on which Levi’s thin soprano voice almost scares me off. She gets dangerously close to the sun, your ears begin to ring a bit and I found myself almost wincing, but she brings it back just in time. She makes amends quickly with the next tune, “I’m Nothing," a moving ode to a past relationship, enhanced by violin driftings that sound almost atonal but succeed beautifully, adding to the power of Levi’s deliberately wandering chord progressions. The song is a triumph, there’s no other word. Another favorite of mine is “Makes No Difference”, similar in terms of remarkable choices, Levi’s trumpet weaves together a gentle bed of beauty for her unadorned voice to lay atop. Ending strong, she closes with “I’ve Arrived," unplugged and backed magnificently by her superior crew. She is a folk festival hit waiting to happen, hit right outta the park.
- Indie Music.Com

"What Are You? Performing Songwriter Review"

Mara Levi
What Are You?
Featured Download: “Drink It Down” MP3

"What Are You? is the sophomore release from Washington, D.C.’s Mara Levi. She’ll capture your attention with a gypsy swing groove, bluesy electric guitar lines and dramatic melodies. She’ll win you over with her plainspoken lyrics and honest delivery. And she’ll surely raise a few eyebrows with the delightfully candid “Homo Song”: “Oh dear old missus so-and-so, I thought I’d call and let you know / Your daughter is a big homo, she’s lying next to me.”
“Change My Mind” finds Levi showcasing her impressive vocal range while asserting “I am ready for the fall / I am ready for the call.” “Drink It Down” is bolstered by an irresistible rhythm while Levi states, “My life played on TV would star Halle Berry, Angelina.” There are even a few mariachi-style horns in the Latin-flavored “I Get By.”
What Are You? combines creative harmonic modulations with sharp references to pop culture. The result is a record that will woo your ears while surreptitiously increasing your social awareness, and that’s never a bad thing." - Performing Songwriter

"What Are You? Stonewall Society Review"

"With this sophomore release Mara Levi breaks new, old, unfamiliar, and familiar ground with masterfully brilliant skill. Genre-spanning power vocals and deep layered lyrics combine to form a grand bouquet of eclectic musical talent that is pure Mara Levi" - Len Rogers, Stonewall Society

"What Are You? Metro Weekly Review"

"...Her songs are complex creations, with ravishing chord changes, catchy melodies, and dazzling harmonies...But their complexity is subtle; she doesn't beat you about the head trying to make you notice it. She just wants the listener to have as much fun as she obviously did making it..." - Metro Weekly DC


Life's a Ball, 2003
What Are You?, 2007



Mara Levi [n. Mahr' uh Lee' vee] introduces a new category of rock and roll: Smart Pop. Notably complex, yet catchy enough to be accessible , Mara's music is both poppy and smart. Mara performs original folk-pop-bluegrass-rock and roll that entertains as it weaves its way into your subconscious.

Using a loop station, Mara adds her talent for Beat Boxing to many songs, and layered vocal harmonies to others. Her poppy, bombastic style of writing combines with melodic vocal harmonies and cunning lyrics to grab the attention of audiences. Often politically-charged, and always charming, Mara's performance style is appealing, honest and light-hearted. Mara is the winner of a 2004 Honor Award from the Great American Songwriting Contest for her song No Difference, and a 2005 Outmusic Outsong of the Year Nominee for her song, The Homo Song!

Mara's latest CD, "What Are You?" was released in March, 2007, and was funded, recorded, arranged, and produced entirely by Mara herself. Mara had outside (and excellent) help with mixing and mastering, but deserves full credit for the eclectic arrangements and moving performances featured on the album.

Mara began playing piano when she was 4. At 10 she added the trumpet and by 20 she had mastered bass and guitar as well. Mara studied voice and composition with several renowned musicians and is well-versed in jazz, classical, folk and rock and roll. All of these traditions lend Mara's songwriting its eclectic, accessible flair.

Mara began her rock and roll career as a songwriter, vocalist, and bass player with the indie-pop band, Kid Sampson. After a short tour of duty in New York City, Kid Sampson took a break, leaving our fair hero to fend for herself. Mara started her solo career in the musical mecca, Northampton, MA. While she still feels that her ultimate home will be in Northampton, Mara currently lives in DC where she is active in the thriving local music scene.

Mara's solo perfomance arrangements bring a new level of intensity to her already powerful and innovative music. Often compared to Liz Phair, Fiona Apple, Alanis Morissette, and Aimee Mann, Mara combines musical worlds creating a style that is uniquely her own.

Mara's first solo CD entitled Life's a Ball features loads of Mara's trademark vocal harmonies and catchy indie-pop ditties.