Marla Mase's self-portrait on the front cover of her new album Speak Deluxe actually does speak volumes about what she sings. The animalized photograph of her face verifies that Marla is peeved-off about something, or maybe everything. She doesn't want mankind to cry craven, but to look at hunger in the eye and feed it. The intrepid and raw realities of her lyrics echo the need to break away and address the world with a "ROAR!"
"I'm a writer first" is how she describes herself. Dedicated to the spoken word, she sings instinctively and imperfectly about war, sex, confinement, body image, and about the silenced and the silent. Not a polished singer or song writer, Marla's spoken words can be interpreted as erotica or primordial, but the music moves with the groove of the Tomás Doncker Band, especially in the delivery of "Piece of Peace".
"Piece of Peace" is a fearless rock anthem performed for the U.N. Global Peace Day event in Linzhou, China last September. Marla Mase and global soul veteran Tomás Doncker were invited to the event to look into the heart and soul of all and awaken the desire for peace. As a citizen of the planet, Marla aggressively sang her "Piece of Peace" song with the same fervor that John Lennon sang "Give Peace a Chance" and with the same commitment John and Yoko participated in their two week long Bed-Ins for peace in Amsterdam and Montreal.
But Marla's not the soft spoken hippy John Lennon once was. She's aggressive. She shakes her fist at us and asks, "What's stopping us" from getting a piece of peace. Crazed eyes and all, she's jarring us, and the message is that in a rational universe freedom from strife should be the ultimate goal. The video that accompanies the track graphically reminds us of the aftermath of events like the Holocaust, Hiroshima, and the chaos of war.
As it happens, this song is Marla's peace sign much like the two young men that held up their peace sign on the days leading up to the 2012 ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. "Why can't we all just get along?" These seven words stopped people on their tracks. In no time, the image went viral. Marla Mase is doing the same thing with her song she's stopping people on their tracks and forcing them to take a good look at themselves and the world around them.
But, what else does she sing about?
Her song "Lioness" is a type of orgasmic roar, triggered by an agitator of the beast. It raises the question: is the human condition in such a lethargic state that it needs to be awakened by something or someone before we remain indifferent forever? Or is it just a narrative about a lioness that has been turned-on by her feeder? Either way, the background music of Tomás Doncker's band adds to the tribal quality of the piece. Awakening the beast just in one individual has the potential to stir the masses.
In "AnnaRexia", a warning song concerned with the need for young girls' obsession with self-starvation, Marla warns that the commercial world's agenda is to make girls feel too big for their bodies and too small for the world. Here again, the background music of Tomás Doncker, with additional vocals from Dancehall singer Garrison Hawk, adds a reggae groove to a serious issue. You can hear all that Marla Mase has to say at SummerStage this year where she most likely will bring on her idiosyncrasies, as well as her feisty message of peace and perhaps wake up the beast in all of us.